I have always been overly obsessed with listening to my favorite melancholy tunes over and over again, never tiring of the songs, the words or my morose reaction. I once asked my college music theory professor about why certain songs hit me so hard, and he said it involved some level of hypothetical observation—a musical conversation, and in all probability caused by a chemical reaction in my brain.
Chemical or not, I have always loved the Elton John song, Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word. Each and every time I listen to the lyrics, they just break my heart. And each and every time I cried to the words, I always imagined that the questions asked in the song must have been formulated with an incredibly precious someone in mind.
What have I got to do to make you love me?
What have I got to do to make you care?
What do I do when lightning strikes me?
And I wake to find that you’re not there?
What have I got to do to make you want me?
What have I got to do to be heard?
What do I say when it’s all over?
Sorry seems to be the hardest word.
It’s sad, so sad.
It’s a sad, sad situation.
And it’s getting more and more absurd.
It’s sad, so sad
Why can’t we talk it over?
Oh it seems to me
That sorry seems to be the hardest word.
Elton John’s heartbreaking lyrics could have been written for anyone—a friend, a lover, a parent, a child.
In my mind, the years of crying and analyzing those lyrics over and over again reinforced for me the realization that I can love someone, but it doesn’t mean that person has to love me back. And I might want to talk it over, but that only works if there is someone on the other side who cares enough to listen.
Yesterday when I turned my car radio on, those sorrowful words and song I had long ago emotionally analyzed and conquered, served as an instant and profound epiphany.
Sorry may seem to be the hardest word, but in actuality goodbye is even harder.
Because sometimes sorry just isn’t enough. You can beg someone for their forgiveness, but they can refuse to forgive. Or forget. Sorry in their mind doesn’t cut it.
So what then?
Do you hang in there? Try to make them love you? Try to make them listen? Try to talk it over?
Bend over backward and kiss up to them even though you feel unfairly judged? Keep silent when you have words rattling around in your head ready to be spilled and spelled out?
Do you jump through hoops to find that loving place you once shared when deep down inside, you know it’s lost forever?
And are there any last words left to say to save forever?
No, because sometimes there is only one word left to say—and that’s goodbye.
And that is indeed a sad, sad situation.