I Hate Lady Antebellum's Hit Song Need You Now
I hate Lady Antebellum's song, "I Need You Now" and not because it is over played like Debbie Boone's "You Light Up My Life" was overplayed. I hate it for a more personal reason. It socks me hard right in the heart each and every time I hear it.
In late 2009, the song was getting quite a bit of airplay on the radio stations in Wisconsin. Especially, the easy listening radio station I would listen to at night. I used a radio to cover up some of the noises that were coming out of a baby monitor we'd set up for my mother, who was dying of congestive heart failure and was at home in a program called In-Home hospice. To just listen to the rasping of her breathing had been wearing at my very essence, not to mention not allowing me to sleep - even lightly. And I needed to sleep lightly in the event she needed help. We also had employed a "bell", a button she could push that would make a distinctive door bell noise on the receiver that was plugged into a nearby outlet but she didn't always use it at that time, so I was forced to employ the dreaded baby monitor.
My sisters and I had been caring for my mother for nearly a year since the congestive heart failure diagnosis. Initially, we thought she might get better and may actually drive again but that hope was soon dashed and my sister moved back home full time to be with her. My other sister and I took turns “spelling" the full timer sister. I was closer, younger, and stronger and luckily unemployed so I had been coming more and more as this event started to near its bitter end.
I'd been driving to La Crosse from my home in Stoughton for several months. The stays in La Crosse becoming longer and longer and the stays back in Stoughton with my own wife and family were becoming shorter and shorter. Every time I came to La Crosse, I had to wonder if I would get to go back home at all - feeling if things got dire enough I'd have to stay full time. I would think about that in the middle of the night while I listened to the radio at a low tone that was loud enough to cover the breathing and sleep talking my mom would do but not loud enough to drown out any sounds that might suggest she needed help.
Most nights Lady Antebellum’s song would come on. Often, it would be close to a quarter after one. I might not have been a little drunk but I was multi-month sleep deprived and on the edge of sanity. I love my wife so dearly that the separation from her was getting to be more than I could stand. We've been together since I was 14, married 25 years at the time with two kids and pets and a life that had been up ended not only by my mother's illness but by being let go from my job where I'd worked for 18 years. Life was unsettled and when I needed my love the most and when she needed me as well - we were usually over 150 miles apart.
The words of that song tore at my heart. But it felt good to feel so sad and to miss my wife that listening to that song was the closest thing I had to her actually being with me. Or that is how I'd feel. So I'd wrap myself up in the misery and the loneliness and the heartbreak of the distance. I'd let the song play into my soul and most of the time I'd break down a cry silently inside. I was torn apart at that time.
We both had come to hate the cell phones because of all the dropped calls and gaps in being able to hear each other. Early on, I’d used the cell to call her as I went for walks when a hospice nurse was there or a relative came by but I'd long ago stopped that practice because of the inefficiency of cell phone communication. I could be tearing up over what was going on while I walked and talked to her… only to realize I'd been talking to dead air for 30 seconds or more and it just got to be too much.
We'd send text messages but even those became less and less as both my wife and I had to tend to our separate lives; mine caring for my mom and my wife caring for my family back home. Even when I did come home to my wife, it was strained because of the heartbreak of the impending loss of someone we both loved and from our hating the continuous routine of going back and forth and just wanting it to end - yet not wanting my mom to die so that it would end. In some respects, it was hell on earth.
So, I embraced the heartache of the song on those sleepless lonely nights and began to look forward to hearing it night after night. I would wonder if my wife was up and thinking about me. I might text a simple “ILY” and wait to see if she was up and if she would reply. I would wonder if I'd get to see her in a few days as planned. Otherwise, during the day I’d have to put her out of my thoughts so I could focus on my mom, who did well for most of this ordeal and I was grateful for that time but it was a strain never the less. So some nights I had the song. At that time, I guess, I didn't hate the song as it was my misery companion.
My mom died that October, I remember on the final few days when she didn't get out of bed anymore how I felt like a survivor who'd been found lost on an island and realizing that the ordeal was nearing an end. Those nights, I actually slept because there were enough people around and she couldn’t get out of bed anymore anyway. She had a catheter the last few days so she didn't even need to get up and pee which had been my main nightly purpose.
Over a year has passed and the song is still a hit, re-released in fact as it had crossed over to the pop formats and had gained a new popularity. Worst of all, it would come on while I made coffee in the morning which was a huge ritual for us when my mom was awake. Using the very scoop we'd used when she was alive, I'd be in the kitchen feeling the loss of my mom as I made the coffee (just for me now) when that song would come on. And even though my wife might be right upstairs, the song would make me feel that separation and the pain of all those back and forth months all over again. But I didn't need it as my misery companion any more so I'd just wipe the tears that were forming out of my eyes and I'd turn off the radio we have on 24/7 in the kitchen. This is what I still do to this day because the song is still friggin' popular. No disrespect to Lady Antebellum's song or its fans but I just can't stand that song any more. I don't need it now.