Of all sad words of tongue and pen,
The saddest of all are these:
It might have been
These words by poet John Greenleaf Whittier are brought to mind by a poignant lament by Stevie Nicks, the Fleetwood Mac songstress, following the loss of her baby Sara, sired by Don Henley, of Eagles fame.
Wait a minute, baby
Stay with me awhile
Said you’d give me light
But you never told me about the fire
Sara, you’re the poet in my heart
Never change, don’t you ever stop
It’s never gone
All I ever wanted to know
That you were dreaming
There’s a heartbeat
No, it never really died
You never really died
When I say Stevie “lost” her baby I am using a euphemism, one of those devices that disguise what really takes place. At one point during a three-year affair with Henley, Stevie found herself pregnant. She decided that she needed an abortion, and the child (whom she would have named Sara) was “terminated” by an abortionist. Henley did not pressure her into the abortion; she was the one who raised the issue. But his ready agreement told her that Henley had no interest in a permanent relationship with her. The affair ended. Her life went on, but she never had any children.
For too many years to count I have been a fan of The Eagles, as well as of (but less so) Fleetwood Mac. My mundane existence was brightened a few years ago by the reunion tour of The Eagles. You grow up with certain songs and bands, but when you are busy raising kids and shaping a career, you don’t have time to ponder and feast on them. So it was a delight to revisit all the old Eagles songs—Tequila Sunrise, Lying Eyes, Hotel California, Desperado.
The Stevie Nicks-Don Henley tale once again demonstrates the chimera that is the fame and fortune of stardom in the entertainment industry. How many of these beautiful and talented people have we lost to drugs, alcohol, and depression over the years? Whitney Houston, Karen Carpenter, Robin Williams, Jim Morrison, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Winehouse, Marilyn Monroe. The list goes on.
Like so many of those trapped in the quicksand of celebrity, Stevie succumbed to the lure of substance abuse, whether related to the abortion of her child I do not know. Fortunately, she listened when her doctor told her that one more line of cocaine would permanently fry her brain. Apparently she also considered suicide, but managed to dig herself out of the pit of despair.
Her life has gone on. At age 66 she has reached the status of icon among rock fans, still beautiful, still evocative of an era when the music was new and good and fun. One will always wonder how her life might have been different had she given birth to a daughter named Sara. We will never know. Neither will she.