“Our paths may never cross again
Maybe my heart will never mend
But I’m glad for all the good times
Cause you’ve brought me so much sunshine
And love was the best it’s ever been”
I was a student at Texas A&M University when this Ronnie Milsap hit graced the country charts. I remember that 1981 concert so very well. I sobbed during this entire song and for at least an hour after. I still get misty listening to it all these years later. Memory can be both a blessing and a curse at times.
While the song refers to a lost lover, celebrating the cherished memories of a love affair that ended, I recall my heart specifically traveling back to August 1977 the first time I heard this tune. In my young life, I had never experienced such a great loss as that stifling summer afternoon when his beautiful heart stopped and mine broke – along with millions of others worldwide. There was no solace in knowing I was not alone.
“I wouldn’t trade one memory
Cause you mean too much to me”
There are events and moments in life that become bittersweet as time gobbles up the years. The pain of losing someone you loved greatly dulls from the rawness of the initial injury, but the scar’s tenderness remains as a testament to the experience. With time, you learn to gently smile on the outside while inside the tears pool within the heart shaped memories.
I felt this again last August visiting Graceland and all the surroundings of the final place our guy called home. There were moments I needed to sit very still and allow the atmosphere to wash over me. It wasn’t only the material portion, all his affects and belongings, but the entire meaning of all that I saw and experienced. This was him; this was Elvis. The visual was at times overwhelming but it was the visceral that hammered away at my emotions.
“They say that all good things must end
Love comes and goes just like the wind
You’ve got your dreams to follow”
Like the majority of you, I never met Elvis Presley. I was still a teenager in 1977. I had a small physical and emotional fan experience in ’76 I’ll forever cherish, but I could hardly say I met him. Yet, like you, I knew him. More importantly, he knew us.
Elvis was well acquainted with his fans, his following, his flock. Not in a religious sense but in an easy comfortable familiar relational arena. He didn’t abuse it or use it as a weapon to garner fame but rather a device to share his fame. The reason his connection remains so strong today is the Presley conduit. Death didn’t erase it, only relocated it from the here and now to the then and forever.
“But if I had the chance tomorrow
You know I’d do it all again”
To love someone, anyone, so very much is a lottery. It’s a chance you take because the payout is so worthwhile. But it’s a step better because when you lose, you still win. Regret isn’t a factor as precious memories override the sorrow with time.
The gratitude of being able to look back with a smile, knowing WE were the lucky ones to experience Elvis within our lifetime, even briefly, brings an unexplainable joy. Our generation held the same space, breathed the same air, and felt an excitement that will never be replicated.
As much as the eventual outcome saddens me, Elvis, I wouldn’t trade one memory … I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.