Dear Partner Letter #18: By Love and By You

Songs & Stories From Home Episode 78



When tales are told round the campfires of our lives
One will be told of a long lonely night
A tale of redemption a story about
Someone lost in hell who was found and got out


Those are the first four lines of the song By Love and By You. For most of us there are life changing moments involving scary leaps of faith often followed by hard climbs and countless small steps. I believe one of the most important things we do for each other is to simply be there in the midst of such moments and times. Here’s the chorus of a song McCoy and I recorded affirming that belief. It’s called As Long As It Takes


For as long as it takes I will be by your side
For whatever awaits in the morning light
This promise I make with you I shall stay
Stay alert and awake for as long as it takes


Dear Partner,

December of 1995 was a time for you and Connie to reset the course of your love and your lives. While you and I didn’t see each other between Thanksgiving and Christmas we talked every day, something we would continue to do for the next year and a half. I spent much of that Holiday Season thinking about you, turning some of those thoughts into words and music. For Christmas I gave you a book made up of some of them starting with a letter dated Christmas 1995.


Dear Coy and Connie,

Here is your Christmas present. A book of unfinished songs, perhaps more significant for what it represents than for its contents.  It got its title, A Midnight Clear, from the season and because some things can only be seen clearly in the "midnight hour."

A month ago you let it be known that you needed love and support.  These songs, the ideas for the songs, and especially the time and care it took to work on them is intended as a way to make my love tangible and my support known. To work on these songs was to think of you every day, to make you part of each of those days. While the quality varies, the effort and concern does not.  While each song may stand alone, together they are part of something bigger. Please accept them as a gift of love and light and song in this season of hope and promise and joy.

A part of the introduction went on to describe that dark night.

On Monday, November 27th, beginning around 4:30 PM the world in which I lived shifted. Mike McCoy told me in plain, simple language that he needed me. I have never known him to admit that he needed anyone before. For the first time that I can remember he cried. This man who kept so much inside himself let a part of himself pour out and run down his cheeks. As two grown men we publicly reached across the table where we were seated and touched one another, holding on for dear life. 

We talked about human failings.  We shared pain, remorse, and anguish.  We struggled to understand why we do the things we do. We wondered how and why those we love the most we often hurt the worst. There was resolve by McCoy to find out who lives in the darkest corners of his being. He expressed his love for Connie.

It was one of the most compelling, culminating conversations of my life.  Why? Because it was as close to the bone as it was to the heart and to the soul.  Because in the thirty years of my adulthood I have never known anyone who appears so close to having it all while coming so close to losing everything. A brighter light seems to shine from him.  The shadows are darker in him, and in the light and in that darkness were commitment, betrayal, self-love and loathing, fear of a fatal flaw, friendship, the possibilities of redemption. 

It was a conversation and a moment we could not have had in our 20's or our 30's. One we did not have in our early 40's. When we left to go our separate ways, I sensed for the first time that McCoy could be a whole person. He could in time accept himself and so accept the love of others. And so love and accept others.  

As he drove off alone into the darkness, I knew there was faith as well as fear, hope as well has horror, and truly there was love. I knew he was ready and able to face whatever the journey demanded. I also knew I would be there as long as he needed me to be.

A feature of the book, the song A Christmas Love Story, was introduced this way:

One of the most compelling parts of the Christmas story is how love appears during the darkest moments of the year in the form of a vulnerable child. In many ways your love mirrors that Christmas love story.  Yours is that part of the human spirit, the collective soul, that will not surrender or give up hope, that finds faith in the darkness, warmth in the midst of the cold, and love in the form of a new birth.  All of this became clear at midnight in one of the longest nights of your lives.  

A promise was fulfilled when the morning finally did come.  We do not know what the next day will bring, but we may have faith that tomorrow will come.  And with that faith new hope and greater love.  How can we be so sure?  Because of a great love story written two thousand years ago that shines through this dark season.


When the whole world was covered with darkness
When all that we knew was the night
When all appeared useless and hopeless
That's when we first saw the light
A light that began as a promise
And then appeared as a star
As it shown brightly upon us
It led us to where we now are


Just when the world was the darkest
That's when that bright light appeared
Part of the Christmas love story
Alive more than two thousand years


In the year that followed one of the steps, a bit of a scary leap, you took was to engage your mom in a renewed spirit. You were hoping to discover new insights about your parents and their relationship that might help you better understand who you’d become and things you’d done. For me a key moment was when as you were getting ready to leave you told your mom you loved her. And because you didn’t often say those words out loud to her, she paused before responding in kind. Then after a few beats she followed that up by saying “haven’t always liked you.” That was the moment when things between you might have ground to a halt, where one or both of you might have gotten defensive. You might have left angry and stayed that way. Instead you both started laughing turning that moment into one of love and truth that would lead to more healing. Sharing that story delights me to this day. Here’s part of a song I wrote about it.


This is the moment could have left a scar
Turns out it’s my favorite part
You started laughing and so did she
And a lot of pain and hurt became history


Life, love, laughter  
These are the things that we’re all after
If we’ve got those things what more can we ask for
Life, love, laughter


There were other moments big and small. I was in the waiting room with Connie when you had your back surgery. Pat and I were witnesses on the day Connie and you and your kids were baptized in Lake Sammamish. For your birthday 48th birthday, your new life barely ten months old, I wrote you a song with this as the chorus.


Now I'm walking each day in the good Lord's footsteps
Do my best to walk His way
When I fall or make a misstep
He is with me every day


As the Spring of 1997 approached there was no way to know we were about to discover once again how precious and fragile life can be. 


When tales are told round the campfires of our lives
One will be told of a long lonely night
A tale of redemption a story that’s true
I was lost and then found by love and by you



Songs & Stories From Home | Mark Pearson Music

One of Those Times in a Life | Mark Pearson Music

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