The Other Daughter

A blog by Lara Jackson’s sister

Archive for April, 2010

Springtime is for awakening

Posted by Carly Rose Jackson on April 17, 2010

and rebirth.

I have many reasons for not adding to this blog for the past 6 months.  This blog is supposed to be about my sister’s swimming career. She’s still swimming.  Last fall she traveled the world (South Africa, Germany, Singapore) to compete in the World Cup.  But it’s hard writing about stuff happening so far away.  I was stuck in Boston, so I didn’t have much to write about.  Now Lara is focusing on school and training.  I’m still stuck in Boston.

On the other hand, I’ve been inspired by so many blogs written by friends (Broccolitarian Universe, The Voice and The Song, Giant Old Lady, In the Living Kitchen, Charlotte’s Web, Dulce De Leche Swirl) and people I found through the magic of the internet (Not That Kind of Girl, Full Gastronomic Tilt, “thought gently whispers . . .” ) that I thought maybe I could expand the subject matter.

The real reason I haven’t written much, though, is: since my dad died, I haven’t the heart.  He was my sister’s greatest fan, and his enthusiasm and knowledge helped me figure out the world of swimming.

So this post is about my dad.

My dad and I contemplate the vast hole in the ground.

Last week I was dog-sitting for a friend (author of aforementioned Broccolitarian Universe). As I walked with the dog along the Charles River, I decided to listen to Grateful Dead.  When “Ripple” came on, I put my iPod and repeat and listened to it at least 10 times until we got back to the apartment. 

Listen for yourself.

I looked up the song on Wikipedia, because I had no doubt there were many theories explaining the lyrics that resonated in my brain.  I found The Annotated “Ripple” which made the comparison between “Ripple” and the Psalms.  Ah, yes that was it.  It reminded me of a Psalm.

First verse:

If my words did glow with the gold of sunshine
And my tunes were played on the harp unstrung
Would you hear my voice come through the music
Would you hold it near as it were your own?

Words glowing with sunshine, songs played on nonexistant strings: what better image for those ethereal communications we sense when thinking about lost loved ones?  I still lose my crap when I think about my father’s voice coming through the music.  I know he loved the Grateful Dead.  I’m sure he spent many hours geeking out– like I am now– analyzing lyrics and appreciating melodies.  So yes, I hold on to this music, and make it my own, because it feels like I’m holding on to my dad.

Second verse:

It’s a hand-me-down, the thoughts are broken
Perhaps they’re better left unsung
I don’t know, don’t really care

Love for this hippy music was totally handed down.  He loved it, so he listened to it and shared it with me.  My thoughts are broken, because they are MY thoughts because he never shared HIS thoughts.  So am I really sharing an experience with my dad every time I listen to this song, or do I only THINK I am?  I don’t know and don’t really care.  So I keep singing it to myself, and for anyone who can hear me.


Ripple in still water
When there is no pebble tossed
Nor wind to blow

A Psalmist sense of causes and actions unexplainable by normal means.  Everything my dad was, his personality, morality, his love for certain movies and humor . . . all those things have participated in the phenomena that make me who I am.  When I read Ann Coulter or watch Lord of the Rings, I do it because he did.  But I also love those things for myself.  Who knows which of his off-hand comments have pushed me down certain paths?  I guess what I’m trying to say is, his life made ripples in my life.  Their causes are untraceable, they cannot be rationalized.

Third verse:

Reach out your hand if your cup be empty
If your cup is full may it be again
Let it be known there is a fountain
That was not made by the hands of men

This verse sends me straight to the Bible.  “My cup runneth over” from Psalms 23.  Many times when I think about how Dad was taken from us so suddenly, without reason, I feel like my cup is empty.  Nothing matters if a good man can be taken away.  But I have reached out in prayer to that fountain of blessings . . . and I realize that my life is good, despite the heartbreaking loss.  Those blessings do not come from men, i.e., they do not come in the forms of admiration, or jobs, or good grades, or nice things.  Just knowing this fountain exists can bring me through the rough patches.  Then I look around and realize my cup is full again.

Fourth verse:

There is a road, no simple highway
Between the dawn and the dark of night
And if you go no one may follow
That path is for your steps alone

Ah yes, a road.  There must be volumes of scholarship on the use of “road” as metaphor for life.  This also reminds me of Matthew 7:13: “Enter in at the narow gate; for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction.”  A highway is wide (broad), but life is a road.  If we pretend that life is easy: on a broad, flat surface, then we fool ourselves.  We cannot know everything another experiences, so we do travel down the path alone.

Fifth verse:

You who choose to lead must follow
But if you fall you fall alone
If you should stand then who’s to guide you?
If I knew the way I would take you home

The idea of leaders being followers seems to come from my Christian study.  Leaders only become leaders when they follow God’s Word.  I often put myself in the leadership position, and I have made my dad proud.  But now, I do strive to follow God’s guidance.  If I refuse guidance, and rely on myself, I will fall alone.  The last two lines seem to come straight out of my dad’s mouth.  Who will guide me through life?  My dad is gone, but as a mere mortal, he never knew the way either.  I know he wanted what was right and good for me.  And he would have given it to me if he could.  Instead he could only offer himself as an example, because no father, no matter how loving, can give his daughter everything.  His love was enough to help me find my own path.  So I go down that road alone, knowing he’s cheering for me not to fall.

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