Thursday, March 22, 2012

Music Can Be the Lance That Pierces Us…

It Opens Us to Let Our Tears Fall
I Was Grieving Before I Listened
to “Your Own Special Way”

Alexa Renee Provo
March 22, 1979 - November 2, 1986

I still cry.
My tears started falling Monday evening when I read Julia Cameron’s phrase “. . . buried in that word ‘heart’ is the word ‘art’ and another word, ‘ear.’” (From “This Writing Life,” The Right to Write, by Julia Cameron). Something about the juxtaposition of the words art, ear, and heart stuck me and tears started spilling from my eyes. I chalked it up to not feeling well for the previous week; I decided my weepiness was more from tiredness than sadness. Sometimes tears come to my eyes and fall for no particular reason, but those times occur less and less often, so the tears surprised me.
I continued reading The Right to Write, and prepared for a writing exercise that involved lighting a candle, putting on music, and writing for 15 minutes about something I’m trying to metabolize. I was in my room behind a closed door and didn’t want to wander into the living room to get a CD, so I checked my meager supply: two CDs, one opera, one Genesis’s “Wind and Wuthering.” The Genesis CD always makes me cry, but I thought I could escape my tears if I put the volume on low and wrote as it played in the background. I lit a rose-scented candle, pushed play, picked up my pen, and started to write. The music was too loud, so I muted the volume further and skipped a song that was too active for my solitary mood and the atmosphere I was trying to create. I skipped too far and “Your Own Special Way” began playing. I know I’ve heard these words before, but they hit me and hit me hard:
“I’ve sailed the world for seven years,
And left all I love behind in tears.
Oh, won’t you come here, wherever you are,
I’ve been all alone long enough.”
The words “seven years and left all I love behind in tears” crushed me. My child Alexa sailed this world for a too-short seven years and left those behind her in tears. In the past when I’ve listened to this song, I probably noted the words, but hearing them that night was like hearing them for the first time. It was the first time, because each time I visit that grief in its entirety, it is like it’s the first time.
I shy away from things that make me cry. I know that certain movies, stories, songs will pierce the armor I often wear, so I avoid them. Grief is scary. It can and does take on a life of its own at times and wrenches the life from your soul. I need—and want—to stay alive even as I step through these times of grieving, rarer though they’ve come to be after twenty-five years all alone since Alexa died.
I wanted to pinpoint a reason for my grief, for the fresh flow of tears and the sorrow that welled up inside me and fought its way out in a torrent of choking sobs. A friend lost her son a few months ago and she’s heavy on my mind and my heart. My daughter’s friend lost her baby girl to SIDS and that loss is also heavy on my heart.
When I spoke to one of my surviving children, I tried to explain away why I cried such bitter tears of loss that night. She gently noted that I don’t have to have a reason to express my grief; that it is simply there, it’s present, it’s a part of me. Because I don’t walk around mired in the deepest throes of grief and mourning, sometimes I mistakenly think that because it’s been 25 years my deepest loss and pain is long over. That fresh grief, that searing, tearing pain in the soul doesn’t happen the way it did in the early days, but it’s present. It’s there. The missing and loving change, but the grief, the loss, stays, stays in the deepest recesses of my heart, and despite what I think or do or say, the grief is a part of me as much as my eyes or hair or distinctive laugh or the way I speak.
I don’t always speak. I have times of silence and like those times of silence, my grief sits quietly, letting me live, letting me love, letting me laugh, and letting me forget for huge swathes of time so that I can be happy and complete and as whole as I’ll ever be.
Grief changes, it morphs, it becomes a wound that no longer cuts to the bone, but it never quite achieves complete healing. I sometimes feel like I have to apologize for my grief, that someone might think it’s been so long, but I know that’s not the case. Anyone who has experienced loss—and we don’t stay in this world too long without doing so—knows that it’s not static, it’s not a book that we read and then close after the last page is read. It’s a book that stays open, that calls to us from its pages, and those pages can hold light, laughter, love, but they also reflect loss, like any good book.
Most days I live pages of light, laughter, and love, but the loss is also a part of my life and there will be days, times, when, as I wrote on my Facebook page a few nights ago:

        These lyrics kill me:
        “I've sailed the world for seven years,
        And left all I love behind in tears.
        Oh, won't you come here, wherever you are,
        I've been all alone long enough.”

        "Your Own Special Way," from Wind and Wuthering by Genesis
        Seven years just wasn't long enough... I still miss my little girl.

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