Living, laughing, serving...and loving

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“Oh, you’re the first one
when things turn out bad
You know I’ll never be lonely
You’re my only one
And I love the things
I really love the things that you do”
“You’re My Best Friend” — Queen

The incredible British rock group Queen is well-known for some of the most powerful ballads in music history, yet this one seems to often fall under the radar.

Written by bass player John Deacon, the song was first featured in the 1975 album “A Night at the Opera” before being released as a single.

“You’re My Best Friend” was a bit of a departure for Queen, though the song received tremendous critical acclaim.

The charts noted the departure more than the critics, as it peaked at No. 16 in the United States Billboard Hot 100 and at No. 7 in the United Kingdom charts.

Deacon wrote the song for his wife, and he included a bit of dig toward Queen frontman Freddie Mercury by writing the song on electric piano, an instrument that Mercury strongly disliked.

In all seriousness, isn’t that just like a strong relationship? Something beautiful and caring mixed in with just a hint of a dig about something that only is known by a few people.

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to sing for a funeral. While honoring the life of someone passed is something I take quite seriously and work to ensure that the song I sing is presented in an honorable way, I will admit that I was both intimidated and relieved by the eulogies delivered before my spot in the service came to sing.

The eulogies both talked about the love of the recently-departed woman and her husband - the sacrifices that she made for the family as he was building a successful career - then the way he was by her side as her health failed in her later years.

Trying to follow up those stories with a song seemed so minute in the grand scheme of recognizing her life, but in a way, it also meant that I could sing without feeling that the song I was singing was meant to lend meaning to the service - that had already been done tremendously well by those delivering remembrances of her life.

When I was married - a decade ago this summer already! - the person doing music took the microphone during the reception and asked a question, “How many couples in the crowd have been married for 30 years?”

A large amount of hands shot up. He then continued asking about 40, 50, and 60 years of marriage and still had hands in the air.

He commented about how that was the most 50-plus year marriages he could remember when he’d asked that question, and he encouraged my wife and I to lean into those couples to really learn “how to do it” as we began our life together.

Reminded again of this recently, he chuckled and responded, “Yeah, you guys had a LOT!”

My wife and I have been blessed with long-standing couples who recognized that our love story, while perhaps not done the way they had done it - we met in an online chat room and were engaged within six months of knowing one another, was one that was intended for many chapters.

One of the constants of those couples that held their hand up with 50 or more years of wedded bliss was a sense of service to one another.

I’ve witnessed both of my grandmothers dedicate themselves for years to their husband as his health was failing. While they appreciated assistance from children and grandchildren in caring for their husband, it was something they seemed to truly find meaning in doing.

For better or worse, indeed.

Unfortunately, many of those couples with their hands raised the longest at my wedding are no longer with us - either one of the couples has passed, or both have in the decade since. They did leave a lasting legacy and example of loving service to many around them.

Beyond the “Super Bowl of Love” on Wednesday, this weekend also touts the actual Super Bowl on the agenda.

Love, however, seems to be something many don’t want to see involved with the game.

You would have to be intentionally avoiding it to be a football fan and not have heard of the relationship between Kansas City Chiefs future-Hall of Fame tight end Travis Kelce and music superstar (and Time magazine person of the year) Taylor Swift. Swift has attended many of the Chiefs’ games this season, and ratings for those games have been through the roof.

The league certainly loves the relationship as new fans, who never paid attention to football before, are buying National Football League (NFL) licensed merchandise because their favorite singer is wearing NFL merchandise on Sundays.

In fact, a recent Sports Business Journal article cited that 17 new NFL licensing agreements were signed this year. That is more agreements than had been signed in the previous decade. That’s 17 more companies that were willing to pay the NFL in order to produce clothing or other memorabilia that included logos from NFL teams as part of the design.

“I just wish that they’d quit showing her constantly during the game,” a disgruntled fan has been heard to say. “She takes up sooo much time during the game!”

Does she though?

An astute “Swiftie” (the nickname given to a fan of Swift) broke things down for all regular season games that Taylor attended. She was on screen for an average of 28 seconds during those games. The average length of those games was three hours and seven minutes. Swift was on screen for less time than the shortest commercial break of the game. Heck, the timer between plays in the NFL is 40 seconds, meaning that her time on screen, on average during the regular season, was less than the time between plays in a game.

This weekend, Swift will perform for sold-out crowds in Tokyo, then jump a plane to rush back and watch her boyfriend play in the biggest game of the season, sacrificing sleep and privacy to support him.

While unconventional, it is their love story.

As someone who had an unconventional story as well, I certainly hope that the majority of the world can act like so many of those long-married couples in our early married life - encouraging Travis and Taylor toward a long, healthy relationship where they each make sacrifices to ensure the longevity and health of the relationship.

Of course, adding in a little electric piano now and then helps keep the laughter coming, too!