Radha’s note* Here is a lovely perspective from my dear friend Harvey Gould.
For years I’d written songs for family members, but had never considered writing one for someone outside of the family. But when Radha and Gary asked me to write a song for their wedding, I knew that I had to do so.
I first met Radha in my capacity as an attorney when she came to me for my help after her son, Christopher had been shot to death by a roommate. She was in the depths of depression and consumed with hatred of her son’s killer. I did for her what little I could, which wasn’t much.
Eventually the killer was found guilty and sentenced. Although many had stood by Radha and her daughter Tina throughout the ordeal, it was Gary who was a constant source of comfort.
Slowly the real Radha emerged. For those of you who know Radha personally, or who know her through her blog, you know that eventually she not only joined, but took an active role in a group dealing with the rights of families victimized by the murder of a family member. You also know her uplifting work with prisoners through the Prison Insight program, her extraordinary guts in facing her son’s killer, and so much more that she’s done. In short, you know that she shed self pity and remorse and turned her personal tragedy into a vehicle to help others.
She refuses to hide behind euphemisms. She never says that her son “passed away”. She says that her son was murdered. Her ability to face and accept impossibly hard truths spurred my admiration for her. It formed a bond that to this day is the glue of our enduring friendship.
Radha transformed herself from the withdrawn and weak victim, who is the first Radha I knew, into the strong advocate and lover of life who is the Rhada I now know. So when Radha and Gary asked me to write a song for their wedding I intended to do so and, in song, I wanted to tell them that they were an inspiration for their refusal to allow life’s horrors to repress their love.
Then almost exactly two months before they were to be married, I was diagnosed with a chronic and terminal disease and was told that I likely had three to five years to live. I gave up writing the song because I was wallowing in a swamp of self pity. My wife, Karen wouldn’t allow it. She said, “If anyone is entitled to hide from hard truths it’s Radha. We have to learn to thank God for each day that He gives to us and to make every day count.” She continued, “A good place for you to start is to write the song for Radha and Gary.” I just hate it when she’s right.
After dragging me out of my swamp, Karen also helped me with some critical words and we finalized the song just days before the wedding.
Typical of Radha, rather than wanting never again to see the judge who had presided at the trial, she had that judge marry her and Gary. The wedding took place in a tented garden planted in Christopher’s memory. After all guests dried their eyes, at the wedding party, buoyed by Radha and Gary’s strength, by their love for each other, and by their love for life, I sang my wedding song for them:
I know the years are passing by.
I know I never want to say good-bye.
I know our love fills us with wealth.
I know I’ll stay with you in sickness and in health.
I know the treasure that is life.
I know I treasure you being my wife.
I know you gave me another start
And death alone is what will make us part.
I know, I know my children say it’s good.
I know my heart told me I should.
I know what’s right; I know what’s wrong;
I know what’s true.
With all my heart I know that I love you.
I know, I know I love you.
I know nothing less will do.
Just as I know that the day turns into night
I know you help to make wrong right.
I know, I know we each have a past.
I know what will and will not last.
I know you don’t make the sun rise,
But I know I ache just gazing in your eyes.
I know, I know that Tina says it’s good.
I know my heart told me that I should.
I’ve even been to heaven, chatted with my son
And he said “Mom I’m sure that he’s the one.”
We know the treasure that is life.
We know you’re meant to be husband and wife.
Our prayer for you is simple now that each wears a gold band.
May you live your life in the hollow of God’s hand.
You know all of us love you.
You know there’s nothing left to do
Except to raise our glasses, wish an end to all your strife
And to pray for you a long and happy life.
Not knowing then that twelve years later I’d be here to continue to bask in their friendship, I still strive to be worthy of their example. Indeed, may we all be worthy of their example. It would be a better world if that were possible.
Guest blogger Harvey Gould is the author of A Fierce Local: Memoirs of My Love Affair with Ireland, a finalist in the San Francisco Writers Conference Indie Publishing Contest. For more information, visit www.harveygould.com or check out Harvey’s blog at www.harveygould.authorsxpress.com.