Death, Running & the Gaslight Anthem
Rhythm Reverie #10
I could feel the steady state of my breath as I ran along the beachside path. The Florida sun felt good on my skin after a few months of cold weather jogs.
I was on a planned vacation, trying to push down the fact that four days earlier, my uncle died suddenly in the middle of his own workout.
I thought I was holding it together quite well given the circumstances. I had a change of scenery and fresh air, and I wasn’t surrounded by family members who could start crying at any given moment. I felt okay.
About a mile into my run, “The ‘59 Sound” by the Gaslight Anthem came on shuffle. Driving rock downbeats are my favorite for pacing myself, but the ending line of the chorus ripped me back to the moment I heard the news.
“Your uncle was found dead in the garage,” the text read.
Over the next couple days, I sat with other family members poring through my uncle’s array of papers he had kept in his office. Bank statements, utility bills, updates from his various affiliations, and quite a few random pieces of paper with scribbled words I was not expecting.
Song names and titles.
I had never once even seen this man listen to the radio let alone share any sort of interest in music. To see a Meghan Trainor song jotted down, a Supertramp bop on a sticky note, was both heart-achingly sad and comical.
So here I am on this run, and the lead singer shouts in my headphones.
Did you hear your favorite song one last time?
I started crying, and the only saving grace of this public moment was that passersby couldn’t tell if it was sweat or tears.
I hadn’t cried too much since hearing the news, but there was something about this one line that was so jarring given the sudden revelation that he had a secret love of music.
His death has rocked the family in more ways than one. It seems like a cruel joke for a 71-year-old healthy and exercise-conscious man to meet his end in the middle of a workout. But God works in mysterious ways I guess.
I’ve cried a few more times since that sunshine-filled run, but I’ve found comfort in a newfound belief.
On his way out, I believe he heard his favorite song one last time.