Dear Ms. Carlile:
I desperately wanted to keep this a secret, so maybe I could surprise my soon to be wife, but it doesn’t look like there’s any way to contact you other than a public forum, so here goes. I guess if your followers feel so inclined, they’ll help me get this to you. I hope you’re well and that the year is bringing you love, happiness, and peace. I hope, if you have time, that you’ll seriously consider my request. Thank you.
My fiancé and I were supposed to marry on New Years Eve last year, but we cancelled the ceremony and dance party in the streets of Portsmouth because her father died unexpectedly on that night one year prior. He went missing the morning of New Years and by that evening, everyone had left their parties and celebrations and gotten into their cars to drive the streets of Western Massachusetts searching for this beloved man who was later found in his car, seemingly sleeping, after drifting into a diabetic coma.
Bob Barrett could have taught us all a thing or two about love. He was the kindest, most generous, loving, and thoughtful man I knew. He wanted desperately to be involved in our ceremony, in our tying of the knot. He gave us his Mother’s engagement ring, which his beloved wife had worn for half a century and demanded that he and his wife help pay for our day. I’d never felt so loved and supported in my whole life. He only wanted for his daughter, who had finally found true happiness, to bind with the person she loved and carry on for the rest of her life in love, as he had. Maybe he wanted a couple of grandkids too, but we’ll never know. My fiancé, Michelle, loved him with an immensity, a ferocity, which I only knew in my grandfather who is ten years passed himself. We’re both fatherless now. No one asks us who will walk us down the aisle at our rescheduled wedding ceremony, that her lost mother is helping us organize. We’ll take each other and maybe the dog.
Michelle lost her words the day her father died. She’s the happiest, most beautiful person I know and she’s struggled through a year of darkness before coming out on the other side of grief with some of her soul intact, but along the way, she lost some of her words. She barely sings anymore. She says she can’t write a song, because the sadness is too great. Before she wrote constantly and sang and played her guitar in the subways or on our porch in the sun, while the neighbor girls hung out the windows with their chins in their palms to listen to her big voice sing about love and life. She’s a potter now. And I love that about her too. When she wants to do something, be good at something, she just goes out to learn it and be good at it. She just had her first open studio and sold half of her pieces. But sometimes I ache for the loneliness that her guitar and her notebook feel. I know she struggles with it. She drops a whisper of a comment here and there, chiding herself for not just picking up the guitar and writing, but she can’t. She says she can’t. But I see a spark, a glint of hope in her eye when she hears your music. She feels again. She is reminded that words mixed with music cure so many hurts. Or they release the demons that weigh us down. She is reminded that in telling our stories, we become free. Yesterday, as we drove to her mom’s for Mother’s Day, I asked her to put on Bear Creek. It’s my favorite driving music. It reminds me of my Pop and Johnny Cash and how I used to build stairs with him in the summer. It reminds me of his old blue jeans and the Old Spice smell of his white, cotton Hanes V-necks with the pack of Marlboro’s about to tip out of the pocket. And his smile. And the way he used to hold my hand under his on the stick shift in his old Chevy. I know she has memories like these too and it’s the only time we both stop talking and just listen. And when she listens to you, she hears her own words coming through her soul again.
I appreciate your patience thus far and for letting me tell you all of this, but I do have a favor to ask. I’m sure you get this a lot and I hope I’m not being too presumptuous, but I’ll kick myself if I don’t even try. I haven’t gotten her a wedding present yet. And yesterday, while driving and then ending up at Bob’s gravesite with her mom and sister to plant new flowers in the ground around his headstone, I started thinking about all of our new beginnings. I’ve become really healthy over the past three years, in mind and body. I quit smoking. I quit drinking. I try to eat organic all the time and I walked away from the film industry and started a dog walking company. I spend all day outside in the sun with animals and I write in my head, so I can jot it down when I get home, or when I wake up from a nap. I’ve gotten quiet in my late thirties and I’ve written two books in the silence. But at the end of the day, I’ve done all of this to lead up to my new life with her. I made an agreement with myself a couple of years ago to be the best, most whole, healthy and happy version of myself going into what will be my forever, but the one thing I can’t do to help her, is to find her music again. Music to me is like String Theory, Quantum Physics, magic. I can’t pull out my guitar and hope that the sound of me strumming chords brings her back to the center of her soul, but you can.
We discovered a fishway in the new town that we’re getting married in. It’s right next to our venue, which is an old mill building in the center of town. We both grew up in Mill Towns and it feels right to do it there. After we booked the venue, we found this fishway on the map called the Robert E. Barrett Fishway. Robert E. Barrett is her father’s exact name, down to the E. Everything feels right. Her dress is being made as I type this. We finally found the perfect cord of linen for my jacket. We have the DJ and the photographer. The invitations have gone out. The cake is ready to be baked. But I don’t have something other than myself to give her. I know this is far-fetched and probably just a product of my deluded, romantic brain that watched too many miniseries and John Hughes films in the 80’s, but if I don’t ask, I will kick myself in the ass for it for years. So…will you join us on our day and sing a song or two?
We talk often of starting anew on this day, the 21st of June, 2014: new breath, new life, new mindfulness, and new words. I want for her words to come back to her. I wish her father could be there, but he can’t. If you’re around these parts maybe you could be there to represent the words and all that her father meant to her. I appreciate your insanely busy schedule and the simple fact that you may not even be in this part of the world on this particular day, but even a video message would be beautiful and so meaningful to her, I think.
So if you get this and if you’re able to, I would be eternally grateful. You’re an inspiration and I want to thank you for helping my love through the darkness of the past year and a half.
Please be well.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart.