While listening to a random playlist, The Beach Boys' "Darlin' " stirred long ago memories. One was that although I liked the melody (Brian Wilson once called the 1967 hit his favorite), I couldn't understand some of what his brother Carl was singing.
Back then, there was no easy way to look up lyrics. So I'd just hum along. But now, with easy access to questions' answers, I was curious. What was that one part I couldn't quite get?
When I found out, my heart both soared and sank.
Soared because the lyric may be the best compliment and greatest gift we can give. Sank because although "Darlin' " sounds like a romantic teenage love ballad - a young man's romantic crush - my first thought was of the love I have for my darlin' Kihei - my dog who died.
An explanation is clearly necessary.
Life is hard. Loss is hard. Being born into this imperfect world is hard. Survival is hard. The longer we live, the more we'll experience hard. Achieving success is hard. Staying healthy is hard. Making relationships work is hard. Life's ephemerality is hard. Even seeking moments of joy can be hard.
Hard. Hard. Hard!
That's why the lyric so shook me.
"l love the way you soften my life with your love."
Isn't that beautiful?
Softening someone's life, offering them respite from the ubiquitous hard, is the most loving thing we can do. Who's life doesn't, at some point, need softening?
Fully comprehending Wilson's lovely, 11-word expression of gratitude brought tears to my eyes and resolve to my heart. I need to put more effort into appreciating those who soften my life. And I have to try harder to soften theirs.
Theirs and others. Especially others whose lives are unfairly hard.
Right to the end, I tried my best to soften Kihei's life. There's no doubt that she softened mine.
I know this because, now that she's gone, life is so much harder.