“And I, I can’t promise you . . .”

When my youngest was much younger, I accompanied her to voice and piano lessons with my chanteuse friend Carri, whose home studio overlooks a bay that hosts riotously blooming wildflowers and a flurry of musical birds.

My pint-sized daughter would choose her own super-sized songs and deliver them a capella.

Sometimes, after my daughter ran through them, Carri would look at her intently, as if wondering how and why she chose them.

Once my little girl sang Norah Jones’ “Don’t Know Why.”  As usual, she sang with feeling far beyond her years.  We grown-ups were mesmerized.

I waited till I saw the sun
I don’t know why I didn’t come . . . .

When I saw the break of day
I wished that I could fly away
‘Stead of kneeling in the sand
Catching teardrops in my hand

After she had sung the song a few times, my daughter took a break and snapped back into her little girl persona.  She twirled around on a stool, tore open a bag of miniature cookies (to the immense interest of Carri’s ancient dog, Sam, who always insisted on sitting in the studio for my daughter’s lessons).  She tossed a couple of sandwich cookies into her mouth and sipped some water.

Carri tilted her head and looked intently at my daughter. She asked her, “What’s that song about?”

My nine-year-old daughter looked up and said, simply, with complete clarity and understanding, “Regret.”

Which brings me to today’s writing challenge, in which I have a maximum of fifteen minutes (being counted down on my pink piggy timer, because the robot timer is occupied) to spin a tale based on the third line of the last song I heard–Hold on to What You Believe.

I, I can’t promise you

That I won’t let you down

And I, I can’t promise you

That I will be the only one around when your hope falls down . . . .

I ran away

I could not take the burden of both me and you

It was too fast

Casting love on me as if it were a spell I could not break

When it was a promise I could not make

What if I was wrong?

This song, too, fundamentally is about regret.  But where Norah Jones’ expressions of regret seemed steeped and settled in the unrecoverable past, I heard hope here.  In the persistent second-guessing refrain–What if I was wrong?–is a willingness to rethink, to recover, and, by holding fast to what counts, to overcome darkness and the conditioned fear of loss.     

. . . .So hold onto what you believed

In the light


Author: Stephanie

In her spare time, Stephanie works full-time, and then some, as an attorney. She has published articles and delivered talks in arcane fields like forensic evidentiary issues, jury instructions, and expert scientific witness preparation. She attended law school near the the banks of the Charles River and loves that dirty water; she will always think of Boston as her home. You are welcome to take a look at her Facebook author page, or follow @SMartinGlennon on Twitter and @schnitzelpond on Instagram. Bonus points for anyone who understands the Instagram handle. All content on this blog, unless otherwise attributed, is (c) 2012-2023 by Stephanie M. Glennon and should not be reproduced (in any form other than re-blogging in accordance with the wee Wordpress buttons at the bottom of each post) without the express permission of the domain holder.

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