Theme Songs

We have a musical house. Well, neither my husband nor I can remember how to play the piano or guitar even after years of lessons, nor can either of us carry a tune. Somehow, though, we produced musically talented sons. They, in turn, brought other musicians into our house to play, rehearse and record over the years. Until the boys moved out over a year ago, our house literally shook to the rafters with booming bass lines and rattling light fixtures. Except during my nap times. Or after 9 pm.

I've been thinking about theme songs lately: baseball players' walk-up tunes, Laura Branigan's recently resurrected "Gloria" to joyfully celebrate the St. Louis Blues' Stanley Cup win, and my own little signature songs that help me navigate this MS journey.

I'm not sick but I'm not well

"I'm not sick but I'm not well" (Harvey Danger) was one of the first of my go-to lines. From the song "Flagpole Sitta," it was popular in the late '90s, a time when I was killin' it as a working mom, a licensed mental health counselor juggling work and babies. Raised to believe women could have it all. Oh, yes, I was balancing pearls and pacifiers; moving between the office and the daycare center. Except I had been diagnosed with MS and moving was getting hard and bad days were starting to interrupt my brilliant career. One day, I came home from work, collapsed on the bed, and started sobbing from exhaustion. And my two little boys were staring at me. It was time to look into disability. (The boys say they don't remember this, so hopefully, they will not need counselors of their own to help them deal with this less-than-stellar parenting moment.)

To this day, I have been known to proclaim, "I'm not sick but I'm not well" at the top of my worn-out voice on days when my most strategically planned schedule has been usurped by some wayward T-cell or haywire nerve ending, blowing my day to pieces.

Another tricky day

Theme songs can be effective shorthand for communicating with friends and family. Another of my favorites, The Who's "Another Tricky Day," is my go-to when I need a little help or sympathy. My sister knows that if my Facebook post says I'm having "another tricky day," I could use some help. It's my S.O.S.

Tell me how you can live broken-hearted

Finally, The Boss. Need I say more? For those who need me to say more, that would be Bruce Springsteen, in "Tell me how can you live broken-hearted" from "Mary's Place." I don't know why I feel this line so deeply. Friends and family have had greater losses then I have. I have SO many blessings. Maybe it's the combination of joy and hopefulness and sadness and despair described here that we live with daily. It's OK to experience both in one day. Maybe even at the same time.

Music helps us get through the day

So, my theme songs seem to encompass negative and positive, silly and serious, joy and pain. I love that music does this. It's incredible to me that legendary songwriters can use this beautiful form of art to help us get through the day. We don't have as much "live" music in our house these days, but there will always be songs here. What's your theme song?

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