I finally had some time to write, so if you want to know some of the reasons why I like 'Undo My Heart' so much, read on.
In November 2012, my dear friend A. lost her husband C. One normal morning they woke up next to each other, as they had for 16 years, and later that day C. collapsed on the sidelines at his daughter's soccer practice. No warning, no symptoms, no known conditions or ailments. After an autopsy and several months passed with no medical evidence pointing to a particular thing, cause of death was listed as 'heart failure' on his death certificate, which we were told is often a default when no other cause is found, leaving everyone with unanswerable questions in addition to their grief. Widow at age 39 with three children, A. lost the love of her life for no (known) reason.
A. has been very open with her children about her own grieving process, and has done her best to help them with theirs. They sometimes talk about if mommy will marry again, and what kind of man she would date, and so on. And while these conversations must be extremely difficult for her, she handles all this with grace and often with humor, lets them know it is natural to ask these questions, and says that she is open to someday finding a new love. She is definitely not in any hurry, though.
Among close friends, A. talks about this too, but on a different level. Besides all that grief encompasses, the impact of her loss on every second of every day, the adjustment of becoming a single mother, having to find work after years at home with her children, extended family dramas she can't control, and more - she tells about suddenly finding herself a member of a group she didn't know existed all around her: a group of widows. In the weeks and months following C.'s death, various friends have approached her offering support and sympathy, and would identify themselves as widows too - now remarried, or still single and dating - and this often comes as a shock. In many cases, she has known the person for a long time and didn't realize they'd lost their husband, because she's only known them in their current relationship. These women offer a unique understanding and empathy she didn't know she needed, along with a growing hope that losing 'the love of her life' wouldn't mean she would never love that deeply again.
A. and C. had a great marriage. No marriage is perfect, but theirs was a deep, loving and fun relationship. A. lives right across the street from me and our neighborhood of families spends a lot of time together. We all witness her grief on a daily basis, we are acutely aware of the empty space by her side, we share memories of C. and do our best to help her get through milestones and birthdays and anniversaries without him.
for every fear
that ever came true
you have to be careful
if I let you
undo my heart
I can't imagine a worse fear coming true than of waking up every day and feeling anew the crushing weight of grief and the empty space beside you. When we heard the first third of 'Undo My Heart' in December, which only goes through the first chorus, I couldn't help but think of A. and how deeply she has been hurt by loss, the doubts and fear she might feel in approaching a new love, and how hard it might be for her to start over. A new man in her life would have to be understanding of the place her husband has in her past and in her heart, and tread lightly around her memories ('you have to be careful if I let you').
How will she feel someday when her son goes to a different man for advice that he would have been asking his father for? How will she feel when her daughters are walked down the aisle by someone other than C. (or if they choose to walk alone despite a new man in her life)? How will she feel the first time she wakes up next to beloved blue eyes or green eyes, instead of the brown eyes that are etched in her heart? These experiences will probably be both happy and painful, but the alternative is to shut love out, and that's not something A. would do. Someone who has loved and been loved well would not be happy in a superficial relationship, they would want a deep and enduring love.
I'm letting you in
under my skin
I'll show you everything
if you swear you're gonna
teach me how
to love again
Not only do we all need someone who knows every part of us, sometimes we also need help learning how to love. Life is a tapestry, and just as every heart is different, every love is different. You can't love different people in the same way; the tapestry you weave together in one relationship will look and feel entirely different than the one you weave in your next relationship. And it must be difficult for some people to make this adjustment after many years with one person; my mother-in-law lost her husband in her early 40s and has remained single, she says because 'I am too set in my ways', which - knowing her as I do by now - really means 'It would be too difficult and/or painful to learn to love someone new.'
One day A. will find a new love, and I can't wait for her to meet him (when the time is right). Not only because I want my dear friend to be loved and happy again, but because any man who is devoted to her and patient enough to win her love and help her look forward, while honoring her past, will be a man well worth knowing. Just like C. was.
I know the song was not written about death, but relationships end for many reasons, and the lyrics could resonate with anyone who has loved deeply and been hurt.
One of the things that is beautiful about the song is the acknowledgement that it would take complete trust and surrender ('I'll show you everything') to make a new love work. I also like the honest appeal for help ('undo my heart, take it apart, and piece me back together'), because there are times when we need help letting go of pain or regret or heartache in order to be able to start again. But most of all, I like that the song is about daring to love again, about the joy and warmth and devotion you may find once you take a chance.
I'm giving in to love again
comes tumbling in
comes, floods through the windows
warming my skin
and you're there
and I'm breathing new air
and all I know is
I'm falling once again
EDIT: I wrote so much about how beautiful the lyrics are, and I didn't even mention how stunning Tini's voice is! You all already know what I think of her singing, she has such an expressive voice and wonderful tone. She gives the song the perfect blend of vulnerability that builds up so naturally to a point of awakening wonder just as the song ends. 'Undo My Heart' is a turning point between past and future; what starts as a hesitant step fueled by longing ends in a warm embrace filled with promise. There is still work to be done, but she makes us believe anything is possible now :-)