Because She Was A Swiftie

Earlier this month, I checked another item off Emily’s bucket list: I saw Taylor Swift live in concert during Night #1 of her three-day run in Nashville’s Nissan Stadium. I was lucky enough to purchase three relatively inexpensive tickets for the 300 level during the pre-sale event back in November (trust me, the five-hour wait time in the queue was worth it). Needless to say, I wasn’t about to let a little rain or a knee injury stop me. I was there and ready for anything.

With a close friend to my right and one of my favorite former co-workers to my left, I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of the nearly five-hour concert. I sang, I laughed, I cried. And most importantly, I got to hear the official announcement for Speak Now (Taylor’s Version), Emily’s favorite album.

I won’t fully divulge just how convinced I am that Emily expected me to be there for fear that someone may recommend I spend some time in grippy sock jail (an Emily term) after reading this. However, I will say I was 100% there for Emily because that girl was a true Swiftie.

Just Your Typical Swiftie

When I first learned that Emily was a huge Taylor Swift fan, I wasn’t the least bit surprised. Many younger Millennials and older Gen Z people I know grew up during the time she climbed to fame, and Emily seemed like the girly girl type who would sing along to her music with a hairbrush in her bedroom.

Emily has pictures of Taylor Swift (and Demi Lovato, but that’s another story) on the walls in her childhood bedroom. She owned CD copies of several of her albums, and every single playlist in her Spotify account has at least one of Taylor’s songs on it.

Needless to say, it’s no surprise that one of Emily’s bucket list items was to see Taylor Swift live in concert. It also wasn’t a surprise that as soon as she heard rumored rumblings about a possible 2023 tour, she basically told me she didn’t care how much the tickets were, we were going.

Our Relationship Through Taylor Swift Songs

Emily’s personal love of T-Swizzle aside, many of Taylor’s songs had become personally meaningful to us during our relationship. It’s a bit hilarious, because although I enjoyed her music before meeting Emily, I was far from a diehard fan. I guess these are the types of things that happen when you date someone nine years younger than you?


For example, the song Dress will make me think of Emily forever more. The song is clearly about two people secretly lusting over each other, which I feel like very accurately describes what was going on “behind the scenes” in both mine and Emily’s minds before we confessed our feelings for each other.

Pretty much every time we hung out between November 2019 and April 2021, I thought about making a move. I almost blurted out, “I have a crush on you!” as we sat in the booth at IHOP after the Lizzo concert. I looked for excuses to spend more time together when we’d meet for dinner. I almost reached for her hand as we watched Words on Bathroom Walls, and one night in my car I even tried hinting at things by saying there was this person I really wanted to kiss. But, according to her, it never seemed like I was openly flirting or interested, and I said the same about her supposed attempts to gauge my interest.

But, that night we kissed after dinner at Hooters, we opened the flood gates and there was no turning back.

The irony of it all? A few days after our first kiss, the song Dress came on as soon as I got in the car to leave Emily’s place, and considering the evening we’d just had, it was almost like a recap.

“Begin Again (Taylor’s Version)”

About six months into our relationship, Red (Taylor’s Version) dropped. I’d never really focused on Begin Again before that, but as I listened this time around, I nearly cried. The song is incredibly relatable because it is all about falling in love again after going through a very painful breakup, and it talks a lot about all the things this new love interest does that the previous partner did not.

Getting married at 21 was not my brightest idea, especially considering the state of the relationship before we even walked down the aisle. At the time, it made sense I suppose, and my low self-esteem and fears of being alone forever got the better of me even though I knew I’d always be seen as inferior to my then-husband and give up many pieces of myself to fit into what I thought would make me an “ideal wife.”

But with Emily, things were completely different. She didn’t constantly put me down or try to control me. She genuinely laughed at my jokes. She would compliment me all the time.

It may not have been a Wednesday in a cafe, but I did watch myself fall in love with someone who truly loved me. And with that, I learned to be comfortable with who I am.

Love Story (Taylor’s Version)

So, this isn’t so much about Emily and me directly, but our “family unit.” Even before Emily and I started dating, she loved my kids. She went with us on many adventures, and her willingness to show them love and spend time with them made my feelings for her grow even more.

Naturally, Emily introduced the kids to many Taylor Swift songs over the years. But, for whatever reason, Love Story was the one song my youngest child became especially fond of. She’d sing it all the time, at the top of her lungs, just like Emily. It was so adorable.

Other Songs

I can probably continue stories with songs from every album, but I’ll just cut to the chase and list some others I remember singing along with Emily, using in reference to our relationship, or enjoying because of some connection to Emily that came up.

  • Lover
  • End Game
  • I Knew You Were Trouble
  • Gorgeous
  • 22
  • Cardigan
  • Champagne Problems

Then, of course, there’s the one that came out just days after Emily died: Bigger Than The Whole Sky.

Midnights dropped on my birthday. Originally, Emily and I planned to listen to the album as we celebrated an epic weekend filled with delicious food, a Lizzo concert, and whatever else Emily had planned for my big 3-5.

Instead, I spent the majority of the day on my couch, still in a haze from the shock of the previous few days. But as soon as one of Emily’s best friends texted me and said, “Taylor very much wrote Bigger Than The Whole Sky for you,” I listened. And then I cried and played the song on repeat for an hour because it so perfectly described what I was feeling about Emily’s death.

Slowly Making Progress on the Bucket List

I’ll be honest, I probably shouldn’t have bought tickets for The Eras Tour. But, I knew how much the concert would have meant to Emily and I just felt this pull to go because of her bucket list. And, I can tell you that I’m certain based on everything that happened while I was at that concert that Emily wanted me there.

Each item I check off the bucket list is incredibly bittersweet. The list was so important to Emily — she first made a list when she got sick in 2017, then made an even bigger list after she received it. She’d told me about the list before we even started dating, but then she went into great detail about it one day when we were sitting in a double tube at the water park in the Opryland Hotel.

That day, I promised her we’d make every item on the list happen, even if it took the rest of our lives to do it. I never thought that would mean I’d be doing it on my own 2 years later, but here we are.

The night at the Taylor Swift concert was magical. They’d called for stormy weather that entire week, yet when Friday arrived, the entire forecast changed. Taylor did an extra song with Phoebe Bridgers that wasn’t part of any previous performance or the special songs. Then she announced Speak Now (Taylor’s Version), which was Emily’s favorite album. The special songs were from older albums, meaning Emily loved them. The fancy arm bracelets flashed purple after the show for SNTV, but purple is also Emily’s favorite color. And, I just felt Emily’s presence with me in a way I never had before.

The only reason I was even at that concert was because of Emily. And I swear, the entire night was filled with sign after sign that Emily knew and approved.

It’s hard, but I’m going to keep doing the bucket list. I made a promise to my girl, and I love her too much to break it. Besides, if I get to experience Emily for even just a moment, it’s worth every penny and every minute of my time. Emily and I were even more end game than MerDer (Grey’s reference + Swiftie nod), and my feelings for her will never change no matter how much time passes.


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