The first person who uses the word “ironic” in the choice of “Our Song” gets kicked in the neck.

Early in our relationship, I told Clare how much the song “Still Breathing” by Green Day resonated with me, mainly because it’s nearly the anthem of perseverance by which I live me life. Every day I awaken I’m thrilled that I’m still breathing, that bipolar symptoms haven’t overtaken my right mind, and I had the fortitude to be equal to any challenge.

Because I’m still breathing
I’m still breathing on my own
My head’s above the rain and roses
Making my way
My way
My way to you

And Clare felt the same of herself. Her perseverance manifested in battling off the neglect of her father, her boss Ani at Molina, and the ghosts of jackholes like “Bobby” who were really great guys “except when they get drunk and beat me” (Clare made this excuse for “Boobby” so much . . . I so want to meet this douchenozel to have a “significant conversation”, something alas I’ll have to do from afar).

What resonated so strongly with Clare were the lyrics:

I’m like a son that was raised without a father
I”m like a mother barely keeping it together

For Clare, Hamlet her Chihuahua, was her son, and as his mother and all the crap she put up with in her life (including the permeating feeling her mother wanted to see Hamlet more than she wanted to see her own daughter, of which I concur for many reasons both in Clare’s anecdotes and my own empiricism).

That one day Clare asked me, in my heart, to adopt Hamlet as my son – and with me agreeing to do so – this lifted such a huge weight off her own heart. Hamlet and I would have Dude Time together which Clare was never allowed to know about, although I did show her “Flying Dog” as a consolation prize… and so she would stop asking me what “Dude Time” entailed. Perhaps a surprise, perhaps not, in one of those moments where she would look me in the eye and say “I’m going to die young, you have to know this”, Clare said that if anything was to happen to her, she wanted me to have Hamlet and not her mom. That’s pretty rough going.

For both Clare and me, “Still Breathing” meant just everything. We’d jam out to the song driving everywhere. In fact, one of the APD officers I’d trained almost pulled us over (I learned later) until he saw it was me and shook his and drove past. We’d bounce around the house to the song. Clare would snapchat me whenever she was driving to a little member’s abode and the song came on the radio. And we suck at singing, but we sang the song loud and strong every time. And I took time to learn the dang song on my uke Josie.

Clare told me so often she was going to die young, often waking from nightmares to tell me. So we lived our moments, and within each moment we were still breathing, we were still breathing on our own.

I’m stoked this was our song. From the first day I met her bowling, I realized I was making my way to her and always had been. And if anyone tries to call it “ironic” because the lyrics seemingly don’t reflect the reality, I’ll kick you in the neck whilst feeling a great swell of pity for your ignorance.

I’m still breathing on my own, Clare. It was so much more wonderful doing so with you in tandem is all.