The Last Mile and My “Falling to Pieces”


In the Name of God, the Kind, the Beautiful

Before I ran the Chicago Marathon in my daughter’s honor, I created a special playlist on my iPod: The Last Mile. I wanted to play specific songs that had a lot of meaning when it came to the Marathon. The first song in that list was “Breakeven (Falling to Pieces)” by The Script. It encapsulated so much of what I was feeling throughout the five long months of training for the Chicago Marathon for my daughter. I put it first on my list because it completely describes what happened to me when she died.

That was the worst day of my life. The pain I felt was intolerable; it was the worst torture I have even been through. My heart was completely crushed and broken into thousands of pieces, and as the song says, “when a heart breaks, no it don’t break even.”

From the first stanza, it is almost like he is singing about how I felt:

“I’m still alive but I’m barely breathing
Just prayed to a God that I don’t believe in
Cause I got time while she got freedom
Cause when a heart breaks no it don’t break even”

Now, being a religious person, I did pray to a God that I absolutely believed in. In fact, it was His soothing touch that helped me cope with the horrific event of her death. To me, I can see how someone, in the midst of their torment, may pray to a “god” that they don’t believe in: like drugs, alcohol, etc. But, thankfully, that was not me. And this line:

“Cause I got time while she got freedom”

It really means a lot to me because, even though she passed away, she became free while I became a prisoner. She became free from all the pain of her cancer; she became free from all the difficulty of her underlying illness; she became free from the horrific side effects of the chemotherapy: the mucositis, the diarrhea, the fevers. She is now flying in heaven, free from all that afflicted her on this earth, and I am left mourning her death.

Truly, as the song said, “Her best days will be some of my worst,” and “While I’m wide awake, she’s no trouble sleeping.” She is now living her best days: she with the Precious Beloved, making Heaven that more beautiful with her light and grace. She is happy, living the life she always wanted to live but couldn’t on this earth. And while she is literally basking in the Light of the Lord, I am here being pierced almost every day with the pain that she is gone and will not come back. She can sleep soundly in Heaven with my Precious Beloved. My wife and I, meanwhile, lose a lot of sleep missing our daughter so very, very much.

And when the chorus starts to play:

“What am I suppose to do when the best part of me was always you
What am I suppose to say when I’m all choked up and your ok”

It almost always brings tears to my eyes. It is true that my daughter was one of the best parts of me, that she brought out a happiness in me that was truly amazing. Now, I’m frequently choked up missing my baby, and she is totally and completely “OK” with her Lord. And thus it is completely true that:

“I’m falling to pieces
I’m falling to pieces”

When the lead singer continues, it’s like he is talking about me:

“They say bad things happen for a reason
But no wise words gonna stop the bleeding
Cause she’s moved on while I’m still grieving
Cause when a heart breaks no it don’t breakeven”

Then comes the bridge, and I realize now that it is one of the guitar players making a siren sound. But when I first heard it, I thought it was an actual siren. It evoked feelings of crisis and emergency, and it nearly brought me to my knees. That’s because my heart – many times – feels like it is in critical condition, in complete crisis. It has been crushed completely, and although it has been mended, the scars are always there. It will never be the same; my wife and I, we will never ever be the same again.

And the way the lead singer sings “I’m falling to pieces” really brings out a sense of desperation, sadness, and pain. Yeah, it may be about a breakup and the different reactions, but it hit the nail right on the head for me. That is why music is so wonderful, for it can touch the soul and evoke pain but it can also bring enormous comfort. Yes, I frequently cry when I hear this song, but the tears are therapeutic. The words that I compose now are cathartic. Processing how I felt then and feel now helps me cope with a disaster that is so unnatural: a father having to bury his child.

And it made me fall to pieces. Throwing dirt on my daughter’s coffin was horrific, and I pray that I never, ever, ever have to do that again. I lost it as I stood there, at her grave, watching the dirt pile up on her pink coffin. And I will never forget those who stood there, by my side, and just held my hand to help me get through that torturous moment.

As I past mile marker 25 during the Chicago Marathon, with my legs on fire and my body in complete exhaustion, I turned on this song, because in the beginning of the journey towards 26.2 miles, I was falling to pieces in the aftermath of the death of my daughter. And so I wanted to listen to this song to remind me of the place from where I came. And when I finally crossed the finish line, it made me all the more grateful to the Lord that He helped me get up on my feet and make that journey on 10/10/10 a complete success.

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6 thoughts on “The Last Mile and My “Falling to Pieces”

  1. You are doing a good job spreading a message of peace. The sincerity of your message is what makes it special. While you live, doing good things in your daughter’s honour, you are allowing her existence to make a difference in the world. However brief her existence was, she is still positively contributing to it through you. I too lost a daughter and understand how painful it is.

  2. Thank you, Doctor, for sharing a very personal piece. I also followed the link to the details about your daughter’s final hours. Tears are still on my face. Even those of us who believe in God and an afterlife have to wonder why children die. I have no answer to that, but I have found Rabbi Kushner’s book, “When Bad Things Happen to Good People” offers some solace and a hint of an answer. May God allow us to be reunited some day with loved ones who left earthly existence at a young age.

  3. Pingback: Happy Birthday, Habeebee… « God, Faith, and a Pen: Basking in His Love

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