Funny thing about grief…..it’s like a new story every day. I thought I was doing o.k. and then the last three days seem to be unbearable. Funny thing about music……it can lift your spirits on a bad day and throw you into the depths of despair on a bad day.
Here we are in the beginnings of the Christmas season which, is always a mixed bag for me, and I can’t even stand the thought of Christmas music. I am trying to politely move through and act as if but so far it isn’t going so well. Today would have typically been the day that we filled the house with Christmas music and tried to hold the kids off as we try and clean the whole house before we break open the first of the Christmas boxes and start to decorate but I just couldn’t do it. I know that I have to for my kids, but it is truly making me sick to my stomach to even think about it.
You have to understand something about me. I am the person who secretly (or not so secretly) listens to Christmas music in August. It really reminds me of better times and sometimes I just need a little taste of it to get me through a rough spot. It is so full of joy and promise. This year it is totally the opposite. I just can’t do it.
It’s funny. I don’t remember feeling this way when my dad went on to heaven. I was pregnant with # 4 and we didn’t have anywhere to live. One would think that that would be enough to dampen anyone’s Christmas spirit but I don’t recall feeling this way. Expecting a baby at that time of the year is really quite something though. I know that the anticipation of that was bitter sweet because my dad would not be there for the first time in my life. He was truly at his happiest with a new baby in his arms and my baby would never know that earthly joy but…… I still didn’t feel the way I do today. I think this is the first time in my life where music doesn’t do the trick. I don’t know what to do with that. All bets are off. This is new territory for me and I don’t like being here.
Over the summer I went to see my brother’s band play at a concert in our local park. I ended up buying a painting from an artist (wife of one of the guys in the band) who was painting as they played. I bought something she had already finished. It took my breath away when I saw it. It is a small bird, a sparrow perhaps, but I was literally drawn to it. I really had no business buying anything as I believe my rent was late that month and bills were piling up, but I couldn’t leave without it. My lovely husband recognized my dazed look instantly and didn’t even try and talk me out of it. We called it an anniversary present only it was just for me. I brought it home and hung it over my bed and called it “our picture”.
I myself was a little astounded at the hold this painting had on me. I just kept telling everyone ” I don’t know what it is but I just love it. ” It wasn’t until the next day when my better half said ” you know why you love it right?” I was amazed and confused to think he could explain what I could not put words to. ” It’s your dad.” I stood in the kitchen dumbfounded. How did I not get it. It was so obvious.
I suppose I should back track a bit and give you a little more info. In previous posts I have told you about my dad. He was a pilot for a brief moment in his life but I still believe it was something he carried with him always. I remember him taking me and my siblings up to a hill in the town where I grew up that sat just above LAX. We would watch the planes coming and going and he really seemed to be in awe. I also remember when a friend of his used to fly model airplanes out in a vacant field on Sunday afternoons. It was so much fun to sit on the rear gate of our station wagon and watch these grown men play with their remote control air planes. I know my dad loved to fly and I loved to see the pictures of him standing out near the air field. When my dad died, I had this vision of him flying, unencumbered by machinery or distracted by the noise of an engine, like a bird soaring through the sky. I also believe he is with me all the time and in a very meaningful way. I think in small ways he lets me know that he is with me. I often sit in my kitchen and look out the window at a small ficus tree I have. Often a sparrow lands on the branch and just sits for a moment. Not a crow or a pigeon or some other large bird but a small and gentle sparrow. I know my dad is letting me know he is still here. The thought of this is what inspired me to write the fist song that then inspired me to try and finish my first CD in twenty years.
Weeks after I had bought the painting, I was sitting on my bed playing my guitar, like I always do. I had reached a point of frustration and stopped, guitar in my lap, to rest my head against my palm and I suddenly had a vision of the cover of the CD. It’s where I do most of my writing and thinking and screaming and crying etc. ……. all of it under that beautiful painting. I know it may seem strange to think of the cover when I haven’t even begun to record anything but I try to think of it as a vision to assure me that it will come to pass. I cling to that picture in my head to remind me that I can get it done. I think I even know the next step I am going to take……but that is for another post. I will keep you….well……posted.
Today would have been my nephew Kenneth’s 25th birthday but he left us 3 weeks ago. How or why he left us just doesn’t really seem to matter today. I have made a choice today to celebrate and to not give into reducing his whole life to one moment, one final moment. He loved to sing and so I choose to sing today. He is alive and well in my song today. I chose to sit down and write a song in his honor. I am including a video of him here. It isn’t professional but it is great. It is, I believe, him in his bliss. I watch it and can relate to those moments when you really just sing your heart out. Words and music collide into a soaring vocal. I can feel his joy coming right off the screen. I choose to remember him this way …….and to put on a harmony.