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Cheryl's folks had each suffered bouts with cancer. Pretty serious business. Those incidents nudged us to talk about the unique ways in which they had loved each other over the years. They stayed together no matter what was happening in their lives. The way they expressed their love was quiet and simple. It’s just the way couples of that generation typically related and worked together.

We met some friends for lunch at Lamole a few days later, and after our delicious meal, we took a stroll around nearby Volpaia. The narrow streets are labyrinth-like and coax out conversation. One friend told of her mother’s sudden death from cancer. She also reminisced about how many times her folks struggled and nearly starved to death as they searched for a way to make a living. They finally settled to farm in Arkansas.

Her story spoke of the same underlying ways of loving that we saw with Cheryl's parents. Ginger’s story gave us a metaphor for writing about this phenomenon that we called “simply love.” It helped us to see those painful experiences in life in a little different way.

Check out our related story at Uncommon Promise


If we make it through these hard times
We will be grateful for all our lives
I can promise you better days
But for now love’s what we have
After all

When we’ve endured all this strife
Bittersweet memories will be kind
In the years to come we’ll look back
Knowing that we always had
Simply love

We’ve had our share of good days
To shore us up and keep hope alive
Content just being together, drawing strength
We knew somehow that we’d be all right
After all

After all that’s happened, stronger than ever
Trust and commitment have inspired our way

As we weather all life can bring
Warm and sweet memories ease the sting
What matters more in the end
Is the comfort found in knowing we have love
To safely see us through our lives together
Simply love

After all


from After All, track released September 1, 2008
Cheryl Martlage - Lyrics and vocals
Emerson Martlage - Music, guitar and vocals
Mr Toad's San Francisco - Mastering
Ginger Graham's parents - Inspiration


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Cheryl and Emerson Martlage San Diego, California

At the age of 48, and after 25 years of marriage, we headed to a secluded town for 6 weeks, to create a new relationship and begin again.

When we arrived as if by magic, we co-wrote our first song ever— "Never Sleep," evoking the mystery and magic of the new adventure. Twenty years later, we're still making music. Join us on our musical storytelling as the adventure continues to unfold
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