I keep hearing the song Edge of Seventeen in my dreams, then it is trapped in my head when I wake up and throughout my mornings.

The problem is, I could never make out the lyrics. I’ve always liked the song but had no idea what Stevie Nicks was singing or what it meant. So today, I decided to Google the lyrics. It was so interesting and lead me to find this interview with Stevie explaining the meaning(s) of the song:


The Two Johns

The lyrics of “Edge of Seventeen” document a grief-stricken Nicks from the death of her uncle Jonathan, who lost his battle with cancer, along with the murder of John Lennon within the same week in December of 1980.

“‘And the days go by like a strand in the wind,’ that’s how fast those days were going by during my uncle’s illness, and it was so upsetting to me,” said Nicks of the lyrics in a 1981 interview. “The part that says ‘I went today… maybe I will go again… tomorrow’ refers to seeing him the day before he died. He was home and my aunt had some music softly playing, and it was a perfect place for the spirit to go away. The white-winged dove in the song is a spirit that is leaving a body, and I felt a great loss at how both Johns were taken. ‘I hear the call of the nightbird singing, come away, come away.’” 

“White-Winged Dove”

The phrase “white-winged dove” in the chorus ties into the idea of the spirit leaving one’s body and affected Nicks while writing the song because of the way Lennon and her uncle died.

“Searchin for an Answer”

Well, I went searchin’ for an answer
Up the stairs and down the hall
And not to find an answer
Just to hear the call
Of a nightbird singing, “Come away”
(Come away, come away)

In this verse, Nicks describes being with her uncle when he passed away and feeling so alone, and the bird calling “come away,” alludes to him leaving this earth.


What this song represents for me:

Well, I went today
Maybe I will go again tomorrow
Yeah yeah, well, the music there
Well, it was hauntingly familiar
Well, I see you doing what I try to do for me
With the words from a poet and a voice from a choir
And a melody, and nothing else mattered

My dad had surgery on Labor Day (Monday 9/5) to remove scar tissue in his stomach which had been causing blockages for a couple of years leading to frequent bouts with pneumonia and ultimately landing him on a ventilator earlier this year. He was in various hospitals and nursing homes over a couple of months to clear his lungs, learn to swallow food, and walk again.

I drove (almost an hour) to see him after his latest surgery. He had his foot worked on a couple of times this year, but I digress. I noticed when I was minutes away from the hospital that my mom had left several messages on my phone telling me not to come because he was sleeping and would probably be recovering for the rest of the day. So I turned around and went to a Labor Day cookout at my boyfriend’s parents’ house. I should have gone back to see my dad the following day (Tuesday 9/6), but I was so far behind on work that I felt I had to scramble all day and all night just to barely catch up. He died that night. 

Well, then suddenly there was no one
Left standing in the hall, yeah, yeah
In a flood of tears
That no one really ever heard fall at all
Well, I went searchin for an answer
Up the stairs and down the hall
And not to find an answer
Just to hear the call
Of a nightbird singing, “Come away”
(Come away, come away)

For me this is my dad referring to the nurse who left him stranded for her entire shift while he was suffering in pain, begging for help, followed by his body failing to manage it and the dove calling him away. He had wonderful nurses up until that day; the most crucial day following his surgery when he needed the most care and she could not be found except for one brief moment at her desk where Mom told her dad couldn’t breathe. The nurse retorted something about how he should be using his breathing machine and continued to do nothing. My dad always got very loopy from anesthesia and medication, plus he was in a lot of pain, so he shouldn’t have been expected to make sure his breathing machine was working or attached correctly. He barely had his wits about him except to be able to say “Help me. Help me”.

What was my mom to do? She isn’t one to make waves. If I had been there, I would not have been afraid to insist the nurse do something or find someone else who would. This is why I am so angry with myself for not being there that day. I put my job before my dad and I will never forgive myself. Mom stayed until that nurse’s shift ended and another nurse’s shift began. The first one had never even entered his room, whereas the night shift nurse came in right away. She noticed a few things wrong with my dad immediately that had been missed or ignored by the previous nurse. She set out to fix his oxygen levels and his NG tube location, which had worked its way out quite a bit and had been hovering above his stomach instead of in his stomach where it belonged. My dad was prone to catching pneumonia, so keeping his oxygen at the right levels and keeping his throat and lungs clear and germ-free was crucial. This did not happen until the night nurse arrived. My mom felt he was finally in good hands, so she went home to get some sleep. He died two hours later. It was too late to fix what had been brewing in him throughout the previous shift.

On Monday, my dad’s surgeon said he had a healthy heart and it is not going to be what kills him. He said the surgery went really well. The scar tissue was easy to remove and there were no other issues to be found, but this type of surgery causes a lot of pain. This was expected. This is why I left him alone to sleep. My mom, brother, and I felt that my dad’s ongoing problems had finally and officially been solved. He had a really bad year this year, but we truly believed he would be on the mend and that 2023 was going to bring life back into him; that he was going to be able to heal, walk, and travel again. At 11:24 PM his heart gave in. He beat the odds so many times this year when we thought we were going to lose him, but he made it through. Then the root cause was found and fixed, only to die a day later from neglect. His heart had probably been deprived of oxygen for too long. It had nothing to do with its strength. When my mom told the night shift doctor about what had transpired with the previous nurse, he tried to blow it off and said my dad just had a bad heart. No, he did not, otherwise, the surgeon would not have risked doing the surgery. He was susceptible to pneumonia. That is what he had. Not a bad heart. If you’d checked his history, Mr. Doctor, you’d know this.

This is healthcare in America, folks. You are not safe here. All of the amazing surgeons, doctors, and nurses can’t make up for the bad ones who are present at the most crucial times. One can only do so much when this system we have only cares about making money. The system doesn’t have the luxury of cultivating employees who actually care, weeding out the ones who don’t. The system doesn’t allow for time to look at a patient’s history to connect the dots and find patterns. Medical diagnosticians are a thing of the past. 

Dad, Im sorry I wasnt there fighting for you and the dove took you away. <3

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