Through The Long Night

Song: Through The Long Night

Album: Glass Houses (1980)

A few songs ago I covered “Sleeping With The Television On” and mentioned that it wasn’t what I expected. Based on the title of that song I made a connection in my head to a personal experience with depression and was a little disappointed when the song didn’t match my, admittedly unreasonable, expectations.

At that time, brilliant reader S. Barber suggested that if it’s a battle with depression and sleeplessness I want to hear about, I should check out “Through The Long Night,” the song which ends Glass Houses. Since I have been taking this album side a song at a time I didn’t want to cheat by listening ahead but now I’ve made it to the end of the record.

On “Through The Long Night” Billy Joel does one of the things he does best; he takes a dark and difficult subject and wraps a sweet and gentle song around it. The difficult subject is a partner dealing with depression and the sweetness is the melody that plays out over a quiet arrangement like a lullaby sung to help a troubled mind stop racing long enough to feel some peace. It’s a very nice song and sentiment to close out another strong record.

As someone who has dealt with depression and has had a number of long nights I especially identify with this one. Over the last six years I have worked very hard to make the transition from a person who had trouble functioning in the world to someone who has learned to manage their unhealthy tendencies and lead a fuller life. I have been lucky to have an incredible support network in my life during this time, led by my wife and my dog.  Yes, my dog has been a big part of my support team.

Daisy, my dog and Nina, my wife

I met my wife when I was still relatively early in the process of changing my life. She saw in me someone who had been through some difficulties but was essentially a good person trying to become a better person. She decided to give me a chance and when she arrived in my life she brought a dog with her. My wife was my primary inspiration to keep working towards my goals and she deserves much of the credit for where my life is today but it was my dog helped keep me focused.

There is nothing like having another living thing who depends on you for their well being and loves you unconditionally to keep a person from getting lost in their own head. My dog was the silent, supportive witness to my life during the long transitional period and while she doesn’t know it, the fact that she was always happy to see me and always willing to sit beside me made a difference.

About two years after I met my wife and my dog my ability to avoid depression was seriously challenged by the unexpected death on my father. In the months that followed I spent many sleepless nights unsure of if I was going to rebound from the shock. On some of these nights I would get out of bed and sit alone in front of the TV; at least I’d start out alone. Invariably my dog would notice I was missing from the bed and she would come looking for me. We’d watch TV until I could fall asleep again. As I said at the time: whenever I felt lost, my dog would find me.

I mention this because yesterday my dog was diagnosed with bladder cancer. The good news is the fact that it has been caught early; with surgery and chemo there is a very good chance that she’ll be cancer free soon. In fact this is her second bout with the big C. Two years ago she had surgery to remove a cancerous growth and she’s been health and thriving ever since. That said my dog is probably about 11 years old and there are no guarantees but this is her best chance to get better so we’re going to take it. She is going to have a difficult time but I can help her through the long nights, just like she’s done for me many times. We will make whatever time we have left together as good as it can be.

Nina, Daisy and me, photo by Lisa Jane Persky