Our brother died on March 25, 2013. In his final days, we spent time remembering things from his past. We played this song hoping it would prompt happy memories of when he rode the train from New Orleans to home. Instead, as he listened to the words, all he could do was cry. After a while, he asked us to turn it off. The song not only brought back memories of a time he could never have back but also of a life that he was leaving.
As I listen, now, to the words of this song, I think that each life is nothing more than a one way journey with the only sure destination of death at the end of the ride. In life, we think we are different. Some claim to be smarter, prettier, healthier, richer. Some appear to struggle to live this life, making choices that surely put them on a fast track to our common destination.
"Grab your ticket and your suitcase.
Thunder's rolling down this track.
Well you don't know where you're goin' now,
but you know you won't be back."
My brother cried as he listened and we can only guess what prompted the tears. He had been one of those whose choices surely put him on the fast track. At this point, one would think that he would be resolved with his choice. Instead, he cries. It's been a hard journey.
"Well darlin', if your weary,
lay your head upon my chest.
We'll take what we can carry
and disregard the rest."
We have been quick to judge his past, and now, click our tongues at his current state. But who are we to judge?
We are all simple human beings on the same journey to that common destination and we are all doing
the best we can to ride this train.
"This train carries saints and sinners,
this train carries losers and winners.
This train carries whores and gamblers.
This train carries lost souls."
In the end, some would say that he didn't have to suffer long. Instead, I think he suffered his whole life. He had wanted what everyone wants. He wanted to be successful. He wanted to be accepted. He wanted to be happy.
He was no different than you or me. He had hopes and dreams!
"Well, big wheels roll through fields where sunlight streams.
Meet me in the land of hopes and dreams."
He had finally found his way back home but now a broken man. His independence was shattered. We knew that he needed
more help then we could provide.
We called on all the spirits of our family and they responded...
"Well I will provide for you. I'll stand by your side.
You'll need a good companion now, for this part of the ride.
Leave behind your sorrows. This day, at last.
Tomorrow there'll be sunshine. All this darkness past."
This imperfect man, riding our train, blessed our life with his stubborn attitude, fierce sense of right and wrong,
and insistence to make the journey his own.
We did not always appreciate his spirit but oh do we miss it now!
For now, my brother...
"Big wheels roll through fields where sunlight streams.We'll meet you in the land of hope and dreams."