Another week, another Spoiler Alert.
In 2012, when we were first introduced to country singer Rayna Jaymes and her family in Nashville, she was surrounded by dirty politicians (her husband) and murderous sociopaths (her father), and still reeling from the hurt caused by fellow musician and love of her life Deacon Claybourne. But through every challenge that came her way, as the heart and soul of the series, Rayna’s wisdom and strength were reassuring, her Southern “bless your heart” refrains were charming and a little disarming, and her honeyed, soulful voice was a warm blanket for the coldest winter days.
Now, Rayna Jaymes is dead and it’s hard to know what to say. The victim first of a stalker, then of a speeding truck, it looked as though she might just pull through. But as music surrounded her, she slipped away, her family and friends standing numb in disbelief, and millions of her fans wondering just how they will get through without her.
We knew, of course, that when her late mother showed up and talked to Rayna, it was just a matter of time. But denial being one of the five stages of grief, we looked past that for a bit. As three of the other stages – anger, bargaining, depression – worked their way into our minds in the wake of her passing, we asked ourselves why and wondered what we could do to make it not be true. For Nashies, losing Rayna is like losing a family member. Country music’s sense of family, even on the fictional small screen, is one of its greatest strengths, which is why the fifth stage of grief – acceptance – may be a long time coming.
What lies ahead for Rayna’s family appears to be a whirlwind of chaos, the last thing we need while we’re grieving, but a natural reaction when we really don’t know what the hell else to do. Still, in her final hours, Rayna left us with the idea that her last song should close with a fitting coda. “The last little thing you hear that suddenly makes everything make sense,” she called it. We don’t know what that coda will be. But maybe Deacon does – if he can remember Rayna’s spirit and let “that last little thing” take wing as he works through his unspeakable grief.
As for us fans, we’ll soldier on, taking cold comfort in the knowledge that, for the series’ five seasons, Rayna was Nashville‘s angel.