Little did I know that Elton John’s “Your Song” would prove to be one of the biggest gifts I would ever receive. It became a thread that forever ties my heart to my oldest son, Jacob.
Elton John’s music wove its magic into Jacob’s earliest beginnings. When I was pregnant with Jacob, I was obsessed with Elton’s song “Blessed,” with “Your Song” coming in a very close second. Elton’s music felt so right as I was expecting this bundle of joy in 1999. These songs were permanently intertwined with this mother’s love.
Fast forward eight years to May 2007, when CBC Canada held a casting call for a Canadian version of a show called, “No Opportunity Wasted.” It focused on people facing their fears and fulfilling a long-held dream or desire. This show piqued my interested, and I was seriously considering it, but I wasn’t sure about why I wanted to do it and sharing your “why” was a key piece of the selection process.
One evening when Jacob and I were in the car, the commercial for the casting call came on the radio, followed by Elton John’s “Your Song,” and I began to cry. I was so grateful for my blue-eyed boy. I had until early July to apply and figure out why I wanted to be on the show.
But then June 25, 2007, happened. That morning Jacob never woke up. My reason was gone, and my heart was broken. My world shattered. And I hadn’t been there. He had been with his dad. I wasn’t the last person he saw before he left this world.
But then my ex-husband shared something amazing with me. Before going to bed for the last time, Jacob had come downstairs crying. He had been listening to the radio and Jacob told my ex that they had “played the song that makes Mommy cry.” When he shared this story with me, I instantly knew that Jacob meant, “Your Song,” because of what had happened a month earlier. I confirmed the playlist with the radio station, and, yes, it was “Your Song” that had been playing at that time.
In an interesting turn of fate, I happened to be listening to Michael Bublé’s album, Call Me Irresponsible, that featured his song, “Everything” when Jacob was listening to “Your Song.” As I was driving home from Edmonton, listening to “Everything,” I realized that Jacob was my reason for wanting to face my fears and go after my dreams. He was my everything. Jacob tended to shy away from facing his fears, so maybe I will show him by example that he can do it too. I felt so excited and in love with my boy, and I couldn’t wait to see him the next day after school.
But then the world came crashing down, and I didn’t get to tell him all that I had realized.
Except, there was this musical connection; with these two songs on either side, joining our hearts at the same time. I believe that Jacob was thinking of me when he went to sleep just as I was thinking of him as I drove home.
This connection saved me. It was such a gift.
In 2014, I got to say thank you to Michael Bublé (in person!) for his song and the connection he helped create. I’m not sure I made a whole lot of sense at the time, but I got to say the words to him, and it was very healing. At the time, I teased that I will have to see if I could meet Elton and do the same thing.
Once I heard about Elton’s “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” Tour, I contemplated striking up a campaign to meet Elton along the lines of what I did to meet Bublé, but I just didn’t have the energy. Grief was busy kicking my ass.
This past year has been one filled with milestones that were akin to a grief minefield. My youngest son started grade 2. Jacob died at the end of grade 2. I just needed to get through the year. Then I just need my youngest to turn eight and survive. I was not in any kind of headspace to set out on the adventure of meeting Elton John. I didn’t even try to get tickets to the show.
But then a friend who knew about my Elton-Jacob connection planted a seed the week of Elton’s Edmonton shows. She had discovered that Ticketmaster releases affordable tickets the day of the show and that he performs “Your Song” as part of the concert. She suggested we go.
It wasn’t as simple as getting tickets. I got super sick with a nasty cold, and then my friend’s back flared up and did I mention that southern Alberta was in for a major snowstorm in September? It didn’t look good for making my dream come true.
Come Saturday morning, the day of Elton’s second show; I knew I wouldn’t forgive myself if we didn’t try to go. Thank goodness for pain medication! It even looked like the storm would hit south of Calgary, so let the adventure begin!
We left Calgary at about 3 pm on Saturday after picking up some FANtastic pink and purple boas and a fuschia sequined hat and a purple tiara to wear to the concert. Never mind that we didn’t have any tickets to the show, we were going to Edmonton!
While I drove, my friend Alison worked the Ticketmaster app…continually. She repeatedly joined the cue, trying to grab us some decent seats at a price we could afford. Just before Red Deer we managed to select two tickets in the last row on the floor, but we were eight seats apart. We couldn’t make up our minds whether or not to take them, so the tickets lapsed. We had planned that if we didn’t have tickets by Red Deer, we would reconsider our plans. We didn’t stop; we kept driving. And we kept trying to get tickets.
Just as we reached the Ponoka area, some 40 minutes later, two tickets in Row 30 on the floor popped up, but they had one couple between us. We took them! (It’s way easier to ask twp people if you can sit together than five people.)
We arrived in Edmonton an hour and a half before the show. We grabbed some quick pasta at the only place near the arena that had any space to sit and eat. Then it was off to the show!
I have to say, floor seating is not my first choice given that I am vertically challenged. But I couldn’t believe that I could see Elton from my seats. I had a clear view most of the night. The ginormous screen behind Elton helped for the times I couldn’t see.
Elton and his team of musicians delivered the most amazing show, full of energy, and so perfectly executed. It was clear that they were all having a good time up on stage. And we were having fun in our seats too. (Did I mention we dressed up in feather boas? So fun! Someone wore an astronaut costume while another person wore a chicken suit.) Then came time for the encore – “Your Song” and “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.”
Alison wrapped her arms around me as “Your Song” began to play, and I held onto her too. Then the tears began to fall, soaking my face. My heart broke open once again. My love and loss streaming down my face as the music vibrated through me, body and soul. I soaked it all in – feeling broken yet grateful for this song. So grateful to be able to hear Elton play it with my own ears, seeing him with my own eyes. I will be forever grateful for this concert.
But our adventure wasn’t quite over – we still needed to get home!
Being the dedicated mommies that we are, my friend and I needed to get home to our kids for the next morning. So as soon as the concert ended we made our way home to Calgary. (Okay, the world’s slowest McDonald’s drive-through delayed our Edmonton departure. Who would have thought it’d take over 30 minutes to get a coffee and french fries?) On the drive home, we had to brave the storm that had been brewing earlier, but we did it. We made it home around 3:30 am. What a crazy, fun 12 and a half hours!
No, I didn’t get to say thank you to Elton in person for this song. But I will feel thankful for it in my heart every single day until the day I die. I share this song with my youngest, too – I am so glad he’s in the world. Being a parent is a privilege, and I soak it all in because I can.
Elton (and Bernie), your gift is your songs and this one is for me. Thank you.
And to my friend, who is such an amazing human in so many ways, thank you for planting the seed and going on our little adventure!