Amid the chaos Covid-19 is wreaking on the world and people in it, arrived news this morning that country singer Kenny Rogers died. He was 81. I immediately went to YOUTUBE and searched for, and played, his song, Lady.
I don’t often do that—get sentimental over the loss of a celebrity and seek out some way to recapture them, if only for a brief moment. I’ve always thought of celebrities as normal people with some or a lot of talent living extraordinary lives due to our society’s appreciation for that talent in the moment.
Kenny Rogers was at the top of the charts when I was young. He was shoved off by newcomers like Brooks and Dunn, Reba McIntyre, and Garth Brooks, in the nineteen-nineties, but he never quit, or gave up on what he loved: music. He continued to tour and sing his songs, albeit to audiences in smaller venues, right up until three years ago, which would have made him 78 or thereabouts when he retired due to ill health.
Retirement, and now death, did not, and will not, end, what made Kenny Rogers a celebrity in the first place: his iconic voice, and his ability to strum heartstrings with his music, songs like Lady, which was the song my first husband chose for our first dance at our wedding.
He and I are no longer married—to each other. We’re married to other people, and quite happily, and have been for a very long time. But learning today of KR’s death inspired me to seek out that song, and listen to it, and as I did, I thought of that first dance, and how in that moment we both believed in forever—until one day, we didn’t.
Losing Kenny Rogers in the midst of a world-wide pandemic that has us all locked down at home unable to visit or care for family and or friends we love dearly, seems oddly fitting. His loss highlights the fragility of life and love, and indeed, world-wide security, while driving home the enduring nature of the heart’s memories, and its need for solace and comfort from and with those we love during times of chaos and loss.
As much as I grieve Kenny Roger’s passing, I grieve the youthful, and naive twenty-year-old romantic who danced to Lady believing she’d always feel as she did in that moment. I also celebrate.
I celebrate the fifty-something wiser and still foolishly romantic woman I am now who learned that while some marriages end, others, like Kenny Roger songs, endure, and continue to make sweet sweet music in hearts and memories of those alive to live, laugh, love, dance, and remember, together.
RIP, Mr. Rogers. Thank you for giving me an ace that I can keep.