Granted, I was overwrought from the beginning.
Our son – whose voice is his job, and who had just lost his voice the night before – was worried about the upcoming show.
This wasn't just any show. Anticipation was sky high because Lord Huron's performance had already been canceled two years in a row due to COVID. This was finally IT.
And then there was the venue, OMG the venue: the mecca of the outdoor music scene, Red Rocks Amphitheater, which comfortably holds 10,000 people.
And they were all coming. Not only on Wednesday, but Thursday, too.
This was Tuesday, and Ben was calling to tell us, ominously, “what to expect” when we got to Colorado. His voice wasn't in the best of shape – he had strained it at the last show, in Sandy, Utah – but he was seeing a doctor and doing everything possible to make sure he could deliver.
His voice on the phone was small and weary. Hearing it made my heart feel that way, too.
But we would be there, in the audience, hoping to be a kind of beacon in that sea of faces, in our hope of hopes, providing just enough light to see him through. Or maybe even some kind of superpower – just when he needed it the most. We'd be there.
Wednesday started out rainy but was clearing up. Our flight was late, and Denver traffic was stop-and-go, but we got there before the opening act.
Ben greeted us warmly, but with the quiet tension of someone with a big job to do. He was worried that he had a debt to pay to the people coming to see the band. And he was determined to pay it.
“These people are what it's all about,” he said, his voice almost a whisper, his arms sweeping in the direction of the vast number of aisles rising into the sky. “I gotta do it.”
And then, they did. The band went on and they sounded good.
Ben let the crowd know he was having some voice trouble. But through 15 songs – including “Happy Birthday” (just for me!), and the bangers “Ancient Names, Pt. I and Pt. II” – he used his voice just enough to make sure he gave the audience what they had come for.
And then it broke. During “I Lied,” even though he and his partner on the song, Misty, had agreed to trade parts so that she'd carry most of the verses. His voice broke, despite everything, it broke.
But that's when the magic happened.
Misty literally stepped in, moving closer to Ben as he flailed a bit in frustration, and powerfully picked up the words, with Ben accompanying her as best he could.
And the crowd, seeming to sense the band's determination to give them everything they could, sent up a rousing cheer. It's hard to convey what 10,000 people rising from their seats and yelling with appreciation feels like. Because it is a feeling, not just a sight or a sound. It surrounds you. It was magnificent.
At that point I lost it; I started crying uncontrollably. The interaction between Ben and Misty, between the audience and the band, we had made our own little place in the world for that moment. We were all devoted to the cause. And it was good.
It confirmed my faith in my son's resilience.
And it made me appreciate George Eliot's words, which I try to regularly remember: “What do we live for, if not to make life less difficult for each other?”
This is what that looked like in action. If only that sentiment could be the basis of our politics, our society, our communities, our relationships.
We help each other. And we get through.