Early this morning, while driving to my brother's house, I heard some upsetting news.
"Mary Travers has died."
Folk is, by far, my favorite genre of music, its raw simplicity a constant source of solace and joy for my sensitive soul.
I vividly remember the moments when this adoration presented itself.
I was riding in a car with my lifelong "bff" Annie on the way home from Meijer.
The fact that she was moving to Utah that week hung suspended in the air like a pungent odor, its nefarious tentacles dangerously close to our membranes.
She asked if she could play Peter, Paul and Mary for me, and I agreed, secretly thinking, Umm, my parents listen to them...are you serious?
As the music softly swelled to its apex, however, I found myself transfixed.
As much as Leavin' on a Jet Plane has been dismissed, maligned, and ridiculed, it remains, to me, a powerful lament of bittersweet melancholy.
The strong, rich vocals by Mary Travers, fused with gentle harmony by Peter Yarrow and Paul Stookey, somehow managed to isolate all the emotions I could not even identify, extract and soothe every gnawing anxiety.
As Annie and I joined our voices with the chorus, inhaling the palpable reality, I was forever changed.
Years later, I went with my parents to see Peter, Paul and Mary perform live at Meadowbrook Theatre.
My parents, rarely fans of Public Displays of Affection, sat cuddled together as they swayed and sang along to Where Have All the Flowers Gone?
I still recall the tranquil grandeur of that breezy summer evening with a deeply crystallized fondness.
I am certain that I am merely one of thousands who, if not for Mary Travers, would never have shared such precious, intimate moments of sheer delight and poignancy.
For that, I am forever grateful, both to her and for her.