Be Brave

Be Brave

//So be brave, outside there are dangers/
/I might fall down into the ages/
/I might stall out with all the stars off/
/But for you I'll go//

I just made a friend, we met by chance in an online room dedicated to the incredible music of a band you've never heard of. (I am not a hipster, I promise, but you've almost certainly never heard of this band)

//Come down here behind the hour, the day turns to gold/
/Follow my signal to sleep, you’ll never grow old/

As fans of small bands do, we started to exchange memories. How did you hear of them? (a friend of mine showed them to me, he found them on the internet) Have you heard this rare collection of songs that they released exclusively for a charity fundraiser? (Why no, I haven't. He sends me the songs. "You can't buy them now, so it's okay," he says.) I listen to the songs as we chat. They are as excellent as everything else that I love from them.

//So pass the poison and hear those voices/
/And they’re all calling my name//

Finally, the conversation turns to the most important question: what is your favorite song? I consider carefully, because I know the answer is important to this budding friendship.
"Well," I start, "From their early years, when they were still with their label, I love Contact, Fearless (250 And Dark Stars), and Arafax Deep."
"Arafax Deep!"
He makes a face, an emoticon I don't recognize.
*_*
I don't know what it means really, it must be a French thing, but it's obvious that he loves the song, too. Of course, he could hardly fail to, it's a beautiful, simple piece with a recurring piano line that drives home the hopeful melancholy of the lyrics: /This time the world hurts, we're looking for words to say// Show me your meaning of love/ Show me the secrets to life/ And I'll crash in the rain/ Your love is all I need.

He follows it up with a declaration, "Many of my friends love Fearless !"
I don't know much about French, but if they separate exclamation points from words, I'm afraid I'll never be able to accept it as a legitimate language. But in the moment that doesn't matter, because this conversation is happy in a way that most aren't, a simple, shared love of something that most people will never even hear about.
"Fearless is a good song," I quip, "just not as good as their best stuff. :D"
This conversation is definitely going in the direction where emoticons become a necessity. 
I continue listing my favorite songs, "After they left, I love Aeva and the Waving World, Forms and Shapes, and like everything on Self Titled."
My favorite record by this band is an untitled album that we, the fans, call Self Titled, because that was the name the record stores and music services slapped on it. (The album actually has no name, but apparently pencil pushers and computers don't like leaving fields blank)
Every time I talk about it, I am reminded of why I love the record so much. Besides the fact that it was their final album, and contained the perfect balance of all of the things that made me fall in love with the band again and again over the years, it came out when my daughter was just barely a month old. 
She would stop fussing when she heard the guitars sweep in, and I sang her to sleep to the sound of Flares, the haunting closer.
Every time I hear the record, I remember the still, bittersweet moments in the small hours of the morning when I would gaze at my newborn daughter and feel the most powerful love I have ever known, along with the dim awareness that my purpose in life had shifted permanently
It was the happiest I have ever been.

//Let’s close our eyes and count slow, and all of this will soon be gone/

"If you asked me the same question two years ago," my newfound friends informs me, "I'd be like, 'I can't choose.' But something happened in my life."
"Oh?" I ask. I've always loved to know what makes music so important to others.

//So be brave, outside there are dangers/
/I might fall down into the ages/
/I might stall out with all the stars off/
/But for you I'll go//

He doesn't reply for a long time. Ten minutes must have passed, and I wonder if he had to leave suddenly. But the little dots in the corner of the chat flash occasionally, indicating that someone is writing, so I wait.
Finally, the message comes, and I am not prepared.
"I lost my 3 months old newborn... Eyden."
My stomach sinks. But that's just the first sentence.
"So I was broken. All of me was terrified ! But they made a song called 'In the Woodshop.'"
I know it well, it was the only single off of Self Titled.
"And the first sentence of this song is, 'So be brave.' I remember, I was crying for 3 days... But this song saved my life."
This song was the one that probably meant the least to me on the entire record. It's a slow, still song, and while the chorus is pretty it never spoke to me.
But suddenly, it hits me how meaningful the lyrics really are: //Above my head, they'll fly/ With their lives that are more than mine/ Reach out my hands to light/ And feel life that is more//
"This song gave me a little taste of life ! So for me this is 'In The Woodshop !'" I'm not precisely sure what he means, but now the exact meaning is even less important than before.
"Wow..." I write, "I am so sorry. I'm glad you had something to help you through, but I'm so sorry."
The juxtaposition of our experiences hurts on a visceral level. It desolates me that something that was the soundtrack to the happiest part of my life should be the soundtrack to the hardest part of his.
"Yeah..." he replies, "Now it's behind me ! I'll never forget my son but I swear I'll forget the pain ! They brought me so much courage and inspiration ! And I'm thankful to god to brought me Falling Up !"

//Somebody’s life, he had somebody else’s life/
/He covered the windows and told everyone else that/
/He couldn’t see right, it was never his fault/

I don't know much about god, but I know a lot about pain. It will never go away. But maybe with his god, he can one day come to the point where that's okay, where he realizes the depth of his pain is the measure of his love.
"I am thankful, as well. It's wonderful that you had that. :)"
The emoticon seems out of place, but I feel the need to be as positive as I can.
"Yes, it was," he agrees.
There is a comfortable silence that can only be shared after reaffirming beauty and loss together. I am overwhelmingly sad for my newfound friend, but I am encouraged that even in the midst of such terrible loss, something as simple as words and rhythm can heal.

/If I am, and if I am without you here, I'm without you here/
/If I am, and if I am without you here, I'm without you here/
//In your room, some summer you’ll lie and I’ll fly through your window.../

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