I love to brag on my friends when they do something incredible. This incredible thing is a song called “23 Years” written and performed by Corey Kilgannon. (Feel free to click on the hyperlink to listen to the song.)
Corey grew up with two parents that loved each other and loved his sister and he. They were all super involved in their church and even were marriage counselors together for distressed couples. During his freshman year of college, Corey was told by his parents that they were getting a divorce. After two decades of marriage and countless sessions of counseling other couples, his parents were calling it quits. This sent Corey on a long journey of making sense of the crumbling family situation and out of that season of life came his sophomore EP entitled “The Hollow“.
On the EP, he wrestles with memories and questions and thoughts and stories of his childhood. The song “23 Years” is all a conversation, or series of conversations, that never happened between Corey and his dad. If you listen to it, you’ll notice that it’s really just Corey asking a bunch of questions and never getting any answers.
“Was it mom?”
“Was it something about you?”
“Was it someone else?”
The entire song builds and builds and no answers are ever given and finally Corey gets so fed up with never getting an answer as to why his dad is quitting after 23 years of marriage. Surely there has to be a reason! When he realizes no answer is going to be given, Corey looks his dad in the face and essentially tells him that he has missed the point the entire two decades of marriage. He says this:
“Love is getting your hands dirty. Love is bleeding all over each other. Love is sharing the same burdens. Love’s not living together, it’s dying together.”
Essentially, love doesn’t quit until death forces you to quit. What Corey is saying is that love is not easy. It’s dirty. It’s grimy. It’s hard. The phrase out of this that I got tattooed on my right foot (fun fact: in Corey’s handwriting) is the second one.
Love is bleeding all over each other.
You know what this line means to me? It means that if I love you (and I don’t mean some plutonic, weak, Hollywood love-scene love. I mean the dense love that my grandma still has for my grandpa even though he has been gone for 3 years. I mean the love that goes to the grave.) then I am not going to quit until you’ve drained every. ounce. of blood from me. If you’re going to try and quit, then it is going to be over my dead body because THAT is love. Love doesn’t run away when things get hard or when bills can’t get paid or when jobs are lost or, get this, when kids are lost. True love doesn’t know the word “quit”. Christ died for us when we were dead in our sins. Not knee deep or even drowning. We were already dead and dead by a long shot and love still bled all the way out for us.
A few days after I got the tattoo, the “Love” started fading because I started wearing shoes again too quickly. As I was pulling my phone out to text my tattoo guy to set up an appointment to get it touched up, I realized something. I realized that is why I got the tattoo in the first place. If I get married, then at some point it will feel like the love is fading, but that doesn’t change what love is. Even when the love feels like it’s gone, love is still bleeding all over each other and I don’t get to quit. I don’t ever get to quit.
So, like I said, I’ll brag on my friends when they do incredible things. The fact that Corey understood these concepts of love as a 20 year old is pretty freaking incredible to me and inspired me deeply to love people to a degree that many have not been loved before. So this blog is dedicated to my friend Corey Kilgannon, because he is one of a handful of people that has inspired me to live life differently than I was before I knew him.