When I was a sophomore in college I had gone home for the weekend to visit my family. My dad and I were playing guitar around the kitchen table, like we usually do. The phone rang, my dad answered, and someone on the other end of the line notified us that the sister of a good friend of mine had been killed in a car accident on a country road out west of town.
It was a thunderclap. We all felt frozen. That helpless feeling that you get when bad things happen that you cannot influence, or even really understand. Accidents like that don't sink in until long after. With some distance you can see the ripples it made, and the damage it left behind. I still think about it quite a bit all these years later.
Some time after that I read an article about how the death of a child tears relationships apart. At the time, I think I read the divorce rate among those people was something like 80%, but I'm not sure that was true. It seems like that has been disputed. Still, it moved me.
"You're Not Even Trying" came directly from that experience, that statistic, and some other influences. It's the "coming apart" moment of a relationship that suffered the loss of a son. It's the middle of a fight and I'm not sure if they are really fighting with one another or not. I think they are both lost in the grief, and what they perceive about the other may, or may not be, fair.
I think most conflicts can be boiled down to a lack of communication and understanding. I think these two characters have retreated into themselves and stopped looking for support from the other. The father valued strength and thought he should try to keep everything together and press on, but the mother needed to not feel alone in her grief. You can write the ending however you want. I'm not sure that the end is the most important part of this story.
You're Not Even Trying
by Martin Gilmore (Timtomtodd Music, ASCAP)
He said "You're not even trying
You didn't listen to a word I said
I've been trying to help you..."
She said "You don't understand..."
He said "There you go sneering now,
You're always off to someone else.
Help me to see your grief.
Don't leave me here by myself."
She said "You didn't even weep for him
As they carried him out the door
you stood still as a slab of stone,
and I fell grief-stricken on the floor
I cried for days and days
I never once saw you shed a tear
I was in agony
and it seemed like you didn't care."
He said "Is that what you think of me
That I'm a cold and a careless fool
That because I didn't show my grief
I didn't care for him our you?
How should I know what to do?
I thought it best to show that I was strong..."
She said "How can you call yourself a man
and not weep for your child that's gone?"
She said "You went on as if nothing's wrong
You laughed and you smiled with friends.
You asked me to be strong
And I felt like I was near the end.
And now it's too late to cry
You never know the right things to say..."
He said "There'll be plenty of time for tears
and Hearts are broken everyday."