Sometimes an event happens that stops you in your tracks. It shakes and scares you. This happened to me the day after New Year’s.
My husband Randy and I had hosted our second annual New Year’s Day “Basement Jam.” This is a party for musicians and their friends – – guitarists, drummers, bassists, and some amazing singers.
Randy’s in several bands and over the years has become buddies with many of the area’s music aficionados. We served pizza, wine, and beer. Many brought a favorite dish.
There were probably five bands in all. As usual, the talent was amazing. From the women singing the sultry songs of Aretha Franklin to guitarists shredding away, to impeccable drumming, the basement filled with non-stop, toe-tapping, body swaying music, mostly rock but also country and Motown.
One band was my 26 year-old son Patrick’s, “Pat Stone & the Dirty Boots.” I sat watching this young trio, filled with my usual admiration and gratitude. Patrick picked up his first instrument at 12, one of Randy’s old basses, and hasn’t stopped playing since.
Handsome drummer Nick with shoulder-length dark hair was the backbone with his steady percussion. Bassist Andrew (who I’ve known since he was 14) has grown into a tall, strapping man and is an amazing talent on a huge, upright bass.
Not only are these three band-mates, but housemates and best friends. Patrick tells me every night they grab their instruments and jam for an hour in the living room, just to let off steam.
They played a set of original tunes and then went into a rousing version of Tom Petty’s “Last Dance with Mary Jane” and even Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues.”
Our basement, already full of seasoned musicians, erupted as these three young men played their tight, awesome set. Several of the older guys grabbed their guitars and joined in.
Afterwards, Nick and Andrew said their goodbyes. They were driving home together. (Patrick was tired and opted to sleep in his old bedroom).
I went back to the party, listened some more and then went to bed.
The next morning Patrick came into the kitchen. By the look on his face, I saw something was wrong. “What’s the matter?” I asked.
“Nick and Andrew got into a bad car crash last night,” he said.
I clutched my chest, afraid to hear. “Are they okay?”
He nodded. “Miraculously, they’re fine.”
He told me the details. The accident had taken place on a narrow, windy road between two reservoirs. It was not their fault. A man (maybe who’d been drinking too much) smashed into them, head-on.
Both young men had walked away. Their only injuries were pain caused by air bags, which had probably saved them. The driver of the other car was taken away in an ambulance.
Even though they were fine – and for them, the ending was happy – this news shook me for days. I felt queasy with all the “what-ifs,” as I’m sure their families did. I couldn’t help think how thin the line was between a joyous night and a tragic one.
And as I thought about this, I realized several things…
Life is a gift. Everything can change, or end, in an instant. We must appreciate what we have, even if it’s not perfect.
I also realized what great friends and housemates Nick and Andrew have been for my son, how happy they make him. Sometimes we forget how precious the people are in our lives, until something like this happens.
This past week, I’ve been thinking of possible resolutions for 2017. But this accident helped me understand something. Maybe the greatest resolution is just giving ourselves permission to enjoy life and the people we hold dear.
Maybe we have more than we realize. Maybe we’re luckier than we know. Maybe it’s enough, after all.
I’ve always loved hearing my son’s band. But next time, when I hear the steady drumming of Nick and the rhythmic bass plunking of Andrew, I’ll think of the New Year’s of 2017.
And I’ll give an extra prayer of thanks.
[You can see a clip of Andrew, Nick and Patrick performing at our basement jam here…
Have you had an event that shook you but taught you something? Comments are always welcome and if you like, please share.
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