There’s something just a little bit disconcerting about being in a roomful of people bouncing along happily to a song about your mother’s death. But it always helps to remind me that, in any crowd, there’s likely to be someone for whom the mood is different.
I don’t blame the partyers, because Grey Skies, Green Shoes is a jaunty little number. It swings along with a celebratory kind of air, with the only downbeat to be found tucked away in the lyrics. Inspired by his trip back to England with me for his grandma’s funeral, Matt Butcher captures the bittersweet of love and loss.
Her death came in part of an extended season when life for me was just flat-out miserable. It consisted of waking up, taking a deep breath, and persuading myself I could get through until bedtime, when I could go back to sleep and everything would be OK again for a few hours. I did meetings, meals, church, and conversations with outward interest and inner despair.
As the sunlight started to flicker through the fog, I remembered how that unspoken anguish felt, and it made me more sensitive to others. The snippy co-worker, the rude shopper, the belligerent motorist. Maybe they were toughing out another day as best as they could, just as I had. I remembered the saying, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.” Perhaps they just needed an extra measure of grace.
And then things got better—and I got worse. My life brightened considerably, and I wondered how others could be so gloomy when the sun was shining so hard! I forget that others were still caught in the shadows. So my son’s song is a wistful reminder that people who seem to need a piece of my mind might so much more be in need of peace of mind—a kind word and a prayer, rather than a rebuke.
And when I’m at one of Matt’s shows, and someone tells me they love Grey Skies, Green Shoes, I say, “Glad you like it. I think you would have liked her, too.”
As today happens to be his birthday, it seems appropriate to acknowledge another of his songs. <a href="https://soundcloud.com/matt-butcher/02-ghostwriting-mp3?in=matt-butcher/sets/ghostwriting“>Ghostwriting bookends Grey Skies, Green Shoes beautifully, recognizing that while there are some things you can never get back, there are also some you can never lose. Thanks, son, and Happy Birthday.