Welcome to my twice-monthly feature about anthems, the songs that inspire us. You can listen to the songs on my Spotify playlist, Carry A Watermelon Anthems. New Anthems will be posted here the 1st and 15th of each month.
It was a bucket list moment: front row at the Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band concert at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on February 12, 2016. My husband and I were the 16th and 17th people into the venue, a stroke of luck I can only attribute to karma and possibly divine intervention of my cousin Harvey calling in a favor to the correct department in heaven. He’d passed away a month earlier from lymphoma, most likely caused by his first-responder work at the Pentagon on 9/11 . He was only 49 years old, so I’d been robbed of growing old with him. I was in pieces.
When Bruce started the strums of Wrecking Ball, I stood motionless for the first time in 2.5 hours, hands at my side, tears streaming down my cheeks. Breath came in gulps as I wept along with the lyrics.
Life had taken a wrecking ball to my family and my heart. Deaths of my uncle, my grandmother, and my cousin, along with other major life changes and some unmet expectations, had left me tattered and raw. The image that described my life was a balloon floating into the sky, its ribbon trailing away, away, away. And there at the front of the stage, immersed in the throbbing music, I was momentarily anchored. I wasn’t just signing along; I telling the world I wasn’t going anywhere.
Hold tight to your anger/Don’t fall to your fears…by this point in the song I was full-on screaming the lyrics through sobs. When the last note ended, I offered a quiet thank you to the band for their music. This was the song I’d listened to countless times in the car at full-blast, to convince myself it was going to be OK. For the first time in months, I started to believe it.
May 15 = Vickie Bartkus, teacher extraordinaire with a heart of gold, a love of Idina Menzel and a hard-core Brooklyn accent