I am stealing the idea for this blog from my wonderful friend across the pond, Nicola who has the ability to inspire through her writing. This time she has made me think about how music or more precisely songs, have chronicled the grief in my life. At the time of significant loss, I would lose myself in my thoughts, hide away in my room, house or car and just listen to songs that reminded me of the hurt or the hope.
For those of you who hang on to the notion of music and culture (you know who you are)I will profess that my choice of songs may have been pop sensations or one hit wonders. At the time of their importance, the songs were not about the charts or the artistic form but rather for the words or the melody and how it suited my life at that point in time.
I thought I would include a brief summary before the song, an insight into the loss and how the song came to be the theme for that time in my life.
I remember visiting my girlfriend's dad in the hospital after he was diagnosed with cancer. I can still recall how a significant man in stature and composure could look so weak and vulnerable, it broke my heart. His death changed my reality, I was no longer immortal. The day that I drove to his funeral, this song was playing on the radio. When the phone rang at my home later that day to tell me that my other friend's sister had just died, it seemed that much more fitting.
Everybody Hurts - REM
This song has become epic for funerals and as a theme to prevent suicide, but the day I heard it was the first day it was released on the radio.
Ten months later, a handful of friends waited with baited breath to hear news that our friend, Sheri, would overcome her current struggle with Cystic Fibrosis. We prayed that this time like others, was just a blip in her life story and she would continue to beat the odds of a life-limiting illness. On a Friday evening I returned home from work to my parent's sympathetic looks. I remember the instant flash of hatred that they would or could tell me such a lie, that my beloved friend could not possibly have died, this was not the way our paths would end. All I could do was run from my house and get in the car and drive. I know that there seems to be a theme, but on that drive this song came on the radio, not only one of my favourite performers but words that held meaning to my relationship with my friend.
I'll Remember - Madonna
I never thought that I would know a more profound death than that of my friend Sheri. Hers was a kinship that I will never be able to properly put into words.
A celebrated pregnancy, an anticipated child, a belief in the exception to the rule; these were all the ways I would describe my naivete prior to Flynn's birth. Even five weeks of bed rest, doctor's appointments and ultrasounds did not deter my hope for the end result of a healthy child. I never stopped talking to him, establishing a bond between mother and child, rocking my body to soothe him to sleep or answering his kicks with the rub of my belly. His birth and death would devastate my normal, turn my world upside down. Every song hurt, every melody, every poetic verse cut through me, it took months to find solace. This song gave expression to how I thought and felt about Flynn, how I was coping, how much I missed him and needed to redefine our relationship so I could continue.
Iris - Goo Goo Dolls
There have been times in my life that I have felt like the singer, singing to Flynn and then other times when I felt like he was the singer and the song was his message to me.
When Landy and I separated, it was a devastating and confusing time in both of our lives. Nothing that we said to each other provided comfort. In fact, words meant to soothe were construed as words meant to wound. Many conversations broke down and escalated our situation further into anger and sadness. It was at that time that I could not find words to convey the hurt that this song came on the radio. Not only did it illustrate how I saw the two of us NOT communicating, it said the things that I could not.
How to Save a Life - The Fray
My Grandma had an exhaustive influence on my life and in how I came to be me. Her defiance of the odds, her stamina in the face of chronic illness and her liberated view of my world gave me the confidence that I could be anyone and anything. What a powerful message to give to a young girl in today's society. Her imperfections, her biases, her mistakes allowed me to be flawed and to be human. The day that she died (as we headed home from vacation), I realized that my world would be changed once more. I heard this song on our long drive home from Florida and I knew that there was nothing more to fix, but it was something that as a child I had wanted more than life, to be able to fix her.
Fix You - Coldplay
I think that in light of the length of this blog, I will simply leave you with a quote by one of my favourite poets:
"Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness." ~Maya Angelou, Gather Together in My Name