The Loss of the Boss

But, on one of the nights that Bruce was going to play, my parents drove me to the Philadelphia Spectrum to see if some miracle might happen and we might be able to get in.

If it seems like this first line was part of something larger, you are right. I wrote this when my mom was still alive. These words were the ending to a longer blog post and this story of course is part of a much bigger one- mine with my mom.

There were no miracles.

No kidding. No miracles. She never got better. 

As the final people rushed past to find their seats, my parents sat on the cement steps that would take us back to our car without hearing Bruce. They sat chatting quietly and I heard the music start inside.

The music that my parents would let me blast from my bedroom when I was just a little older than my own teenager is now. She would have loved to watch him grow I think. She is probably still watching though. I wish I could talk to her. I still have so many unanswered questions.

It was muffled music but I was there. I walked closer and closer to one of the cement walls. I could hear a little better. I pressed my ear against the cold cement and I could hear Badlands building to chaos.

If you have never heard this song, you should google a live version where the crowd sings with Bruce. They are almost louder than he is. I think that’s because he has written a song like a prayer, an anthem!

Lights out tonight
Trouble in the heartland
Got a head-on collision
Smashin’ in my guts man
I’m caught in a crossfire
That I don’t understand

I figured out that if I pressed my body against the wall, I felt like I was part of the crowd. I sang along out loud. My parents sat talking on the steps. I sang one song after another.

I stayed that way for hours. It was a Bruce concert after all. I don’t think we stayed until the end, but my parents never rushed me and they never looked at me strange. I don’t know what they said to each other in hushed tones.

Their hushed tones were a miracle really. They always had so much to talk about. I think that is what my dad misses most now. The talking. All of the talking. And, the laughing. She had such an easy laugh.

That was my first Bruce Springsteen concert.

Her grandson has since gone to his first concert. Korean Pop. Such different music but I learned how to have the right heart during the concert from my mom. I leaned into his happiness as he sang every word (in Korean). I was made joyful by his joy. 

A week later, as I was finishing practice, my mom pulled up. She didn’t usually bring me home. When I got in the car she said, “We have to hurry if we are going to get there in time.” We rushed to some place just on the other side of the Delaware river from the Spectrum. We got tickets from someone who was not official. I knew that much.

I don’t give a damn
For the same old played out scenes
I don’t give a damn
For just the in-betweens
Honey I want the heart, I want the soul
I want control right now

I went to my second first Bruce Springsteen concert with tickets my mom found Lord-knows-how. My mom and I sat about 20 rows back to the side. We were close enough for me to fantasize about actually being picked to “dance in the dark” with Bruce.

The music was…transcendent.

Talk about a dream
Try to make it real
You wake up in the night
With a fear so real
Spend your life waiting
For a moment that just don’t come
Well don’t waste your time waiting

And, on that day, I found out that the real boss was my mother!

She read this post before she was gone and she loved it. I am thankful for that. The loss of my boss has been painful in ways that I could never have predicted. But, sometimes, like when I am driving in her car with the speakers she got upgraded so that they were louder, I start singing at the top of my lungs. The music is … transcendent and I know that I refuse to waste my time waiting.

But, Honey, I miss you. I really do. 


9 thoughts on “The Loss of the Boss

  1. lgrainger125

    What an interesting way to revisit a post. I’m sorry for your loss of your mom. Your use of the lyrics tightens your own message. Well done! I enjoyed this piece.

  2. Suzanne

    Music has the power to take us back, to make us cry, to make us smile. Being a huge Bruce fan your post caught my eye, being a daughter it brought a tear. It’s a beautiful tribute to a memory of the Boss who let you be you, showed you the way, and will remain in your heart forever.

  3. Leigh Anne Eck

    The way you have intertwined this previous blog post with your reflection and your current life is heartfelt and poignantly beautiful. “Loss of the boss” is so difficult, but it is through writing that our memories are forever cherished. Thank you for sharing this intimate part of your story.

  4. rdicarne

    Such an interesting intertwining of stories. I lost my mom six months ago and memories, tears, and laughter come at very unexpected times, but they are so heartwarming to remember.

  5. BethMooreSchool

    Oh my god, Natalie! This is absolutely gorgeous writing. I can hear your voice when I read it. It is just so beautiful the way you’ve brought a memory/old piece of writing back to life with new thoughts and new memories.

  6. ebgriffin

    I don’t know why, but it is this line that feels so strong in this piece –
    I went to my second first Bruce Springsteen concert with tickets my mom found Lord-knows-how. My mom and I sat about 20 rows back to the side. We were close enough for me to fantasize about actually being picked to “dance in the dark” with Bruce.
    I just feel like it shows your relationship with your mom and with Bruce. I am missing your mom (as I am missing mine – I lost my boss too). This is a beautiful tribute to her. I’m glad she read it.


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