healing, Hope, Tom Petty

Don’t Wait: Something Good is Coming

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers released “Something Good Coming” in 2010 on their Mojo album. I did not stumble upon this song until 2012 as I prepared for my first live concert. This song caught me by surprise. It was song 14 of 16, and to be honest I didn’t really listen to the last two songs after I heard this one. It immediately spoke to me, and I had to believe, something good was coming…it had to be.

In 2012,  I was in grad school and was on the path to healing, except I didn’t know it then. Life was miserable, I was stuck in every aspect. Life was the same everyday, and hope was not something that I held onto.

“This is how it’s always going to be.”

“Nothing is ever going to change.”

“Why even bother?”

These kind of thoughts plagued my head. The negativity allowed for more to follow. Day after day I dreaded the next. I hated my life. I hated who I was. And then this song entered my world.

The words.

The melody.

The music.

All touched places inside me that had not been touched in so long. There was no way to escape the hope for better things while listening to this song. The more I listened, the more I believed. The more I believed, the more things started to change. Day by day, I was changing too.

When life got too hard, I would skip to song 14 on Mojo and let the song seep into my soul. Something Good Coming…

And there was. There was a better life waiting for my children and me. I began to see ways to change the things I hated. I saw things differently. Things could change, but the change had to start with me. I stopped letting life pass me by. I put actions into motion and everything began to fall into place.

It wasn’t easy. It was downright terrifying at times. When it became overwhelming I slid Mojo into the CD player and listened to track 14. A deep breath allowed the words to enter me in all the needed places and the strength to continue on came.

While in Orlando, FL at my first Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers concert I was lucky enough to hear this song live. There is magic in hearing words live, feeling the beat of the music within your body, as your heart pounds in melody with the music. It was life changing, and the catalyst to the changes that came.

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~2012 Orlando, FL

Every year after this concert, when a tour was announced, I knew I had to go. Nine shows in total. Each brought their own special memories. The 40th Anniversary tour came with an urgency to go to as many shows as I could. I didn’t know why, I just knew I had to go. The first show I attended was in Nashville, TN on April 25, 2017. This was one of those spur of the moment decisions. Not a lot of thought or planning behind it, but I had to go.

When I returned home, I wrote a much needed letter to Tom. For the past 22 years, his music had saved me, and I needed him to know. I took a break from working on The Monster That Ate My Mommy, and wrote all the things I needed to tell him. I didn’t know if he would ever read it, but I felt like I needed to try.

After I wrote the letter, I knew I had to see him from the front row. We had tickets to both Philly shows and the first Boston show. I checked ticket sites to see which show had front row tickets available still. Front row tickets to the July 1st Philadelphia show were within reach…and I jumped on them.

July 1st came, and as we made our way to our seats my heart began to beat in my chest so loud. It had been three months since I mailed the letter and I held on to hope that he had received it. From the moment he entered the stage, my face lit up, and a smile stayed on my face. We made eye contact and as I sang along the smile never left. As he sang he kept looking my way, and the smile grew. At the end of song seven, “Free Fallin'” Tom stopped in front of me and finished the song. For those few seconds I know he knew how important he had been to me. If he hadn’t read my letter, the smile on my face told my story. The story so many of his fans can tell.

It is a moment I will never forget.

During the tour, I didn’t know why I had an urgency to go. I didn’t know what made me get on the plane and head to Nashville. I didn’t know why I had to see him from the front row. On October 2, 2017, I knew. The time to make these dreams come true was on a ticking clock, and came with an important reminder to live.

Don’t postpone things for tomorrow. Our time here is limited. Don’t wait. Live while you can. This is a lesson  Tom had been teaching me since I heard the first song.

There are lessons in everything. Look for them. Learn from them.

And remember…something good is coming…always.

 

 

April 28, 2017

Dear Tom,

I want to thank you, for many things. The summer I turned fourteen I fell in love with your music. Wildflowers had just come out, and when I heard You Don’t Know How it Feels on the radio I felt like you were talking to me. I requested the song on the radio every chance I got, and for my birthday that year I received the cassette tape. I grew up with music, but for the first time, music reached me in places I didn’t know existed.

My childhood was less than ideal, as I grew up in an abusive household with both parents struggling with mental illness and addictions. We found food in the local dumpster when we didn’t have money, and I struggle with PTSD now because of the abuse. At fourteen, life continued to throw challenges my way, and in my darkest hours it was your lyrics and your voice that brought me comfort and gave me hope. Your words were all I had at times.

A few years later, I got mixed up with an abusive older man, and after five years of being trapped and scared the first song I played after I finally found the courage to leave him was Free Fallin’. At this time I was only nineteen, and did not live near any music stores and only had access to Wildflowers and The Greatest Hits. I played them both over and over again, and as before, it was what kept me grounded.

Later, my mom started buying me more of your albums and some of your photos (one was even allegedly signed!) and concert t-shirts off EBay. I was closed off to most people, but the one thing they knew about me was that I connected to your music. I treasured the music and the items, because I never imagined I would get the chance to see you live. I wanted to, but I lived in Vermont, and was with another abusive man, who I had three children with. He was jealous of the love I held for your music.

My gram, who raised me, and was my best and only true friend passed away. I sank into a deep, dark depression, and again, the only thing that brought color to my world was your music. The song that I listened to during this time was Don’t Fade on Me. That song said the words I couldn’t find: “You were the one who took me in…you were the one thing I could count on. Above all you were my friend….” Even now, after eight years, listening to this song brings me great comfort.

A couple years later my family lost everything we owned in a house fire. We had been having troubles with a neighbor, who earlier in the day had threatened to burn our house down, but the fire investigators deemed it accidental. As I stood and watched all of the things my kids and I held dear burn I felt like I had lost everything. All of my music was gone. All of the items my mom had bought me, that made me feel closer to you were gone. All of my gram’s things that reminded me of her were gone. My kids lost all of their toys. We lost pictures…we lost everything. It was devastating until I realized no one was hurt. We were all safe, and what we lost were just things. The song that helped me through this time was Square One. At the time, I did not know that this event was my square one. It allowed me the freedom to put things in motion to leave my abusive husband, and it also gave me a little money to be able to see you live. In 2012 I was able to fly (for the first time!) to see you in Orlando. It was magical. I never imagined I would get the chance to see you and hear you in person.

Living that dream made me see that I could do anything if I wanted it bad enough. The other dream I had since I was a little girl was to be an author, to write my life story. I began to write, but after 65 pages, I got stuck. It was too much to be transported back to all the traumatic events that I had not really dealt with. For two years I put my writing on hold. My mom had hurt me in many ways, I just wanted her to love me, but it was not something that she was fully able to do. I did not feel right exposing our secrets to the world, so I told myself I would write after she passed away. I never imagined I would get the opportunity so quickly, but last April I was at my mom’s bed side as she passed away. Right before she lost consciousness, the last words I spoke to her were “I forgive you Mom. I love you.” She held on for two more days and I was able to tell her all of the things I had been holding on to. Finally, at the end of her life, she was able to give me the love that I had longed for my entire life.

Two weeks after my mom’s death I sat at my computer and wrote, and wrote, and wrote. As I wrote I listened to I Forgive it All on repeat and cried. I really did forgive it all. Two hundred more pages fell out of me, and I have been working on my edited version, because I want the suffering to be worth something, I want to be able to help someone else that may be in a similar situation, much like your music and words helped me.

The songs that I have mentioned are just a few of the ones that have touched me. I wanted to keep this brief enough to let you know that I owe you. If it were not for you and your music, I would have lost my battle with depression years ago. You were a friend when I had none. I have seen you in concert four more times since Orlando, and have three more shows to go to this year. When you come on stage, a smile takes over my face and tears well up in my eyes, because I am grateful for all that you do for your fans and I wanted you to know that you matter. Your lyrics, your songs, your voice matter. I know I am not the only one who feels this way, but I wanted you to know.

If possible, I would be honored to use this as the epigram for my book, The Monster that Ate my Mommy: …there’s somethin’ good comin’ for you and me, sometin’ good comin’ there has to be… Because of you, I believe this to be true.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!

Sincerely Grateful,

Jessica Aiken-Hall

 

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