Music has always, always, always been a part of my life. My mother's prized possessions were her 'records', which I have joyfully inherited and play on a real 'stereo' like I grew up with from time to to time. I have to remember how to work a record player, and the music is scratchy, but I am always instantly transported back to a really nice and simple time. A time when my mom would fold laundry while we had Elvis singing Viva Las Vegas in the background....we'd lay on the floor and she'd take the sheets and fluff them over us like parachutes falling softly on us. We'd roll socks into balls (and amuse my mother with our grand ideas of what our chests would one day look like...NOT!) and croon into spoons to Patsy Cline.
There were very few times (okay, save when Days of Our Lives, One Life to Live and occasionally General Hospital were on) that her stereo was not on and we were not singing (poorly, but enthusiastically!) to something.
She always worried about her records, and that they wouldn't be worth anything to her children when she was gone. Frankly, I could understand that worry, because as I got older and wanted to listen to music OTHER than The Dave Clark Five or Lawrence Welk (my grandmother loved music too and passed HER loves to my mom), I really didn't see much use for those 'old' records either.
And then I grew up. Not just got older, but grew up. Realized the significance in each note and heartfelt word and appreciated not only my mom's very VARIED tastes in music but how her varied tastes colored my own. After she died, the most priceless things she could have left behind to me were her records, and it thrills my soul that her love of music not only was passed from my grandmother to her to me, but to my sweet little Matthew as well. That boy dug a good beat!
After Matthew died, music just seemed to scream at me, and as I've said, someone pointed out (and I believe they were right!) that God was ministering to me through music. Though different music than with what I grew up, still meaningful to me in every note and word.
Several months ago, I wrote about how meaningful the words, "No More Enemy" from Steven Curtis Chapman's 'Heaven Is The Face' were to me. Imagine my surprise (and still, the subsequent goosebumps) when about two weeks later, I received a package in the mail. The return address was from his publishing company and all that was in the envelope was his 'Beauty Will Rise' CD, which was written after his sweet little daughter Maria tragically died. There was no note; no way of me knowing really how this CD even got to me.
He had autographed the inside jacket: "SEE" and this corresponded to the song he wrote of the same name that talked about how he and his family had hoped for some sort of sign from God after Maria's death and how he believed they'd been given one. This CD, mysteriously arriving at my door on a really rough day was my "SEE" and just means so much to me.
Obviously the words from that CD, as well as many others I've heard lately have been so significant in my life over the past several months.
I'm a HUGE showtunes fan! LOVE them. LOVE musicals. Favorite movie ever? The Sound of Music. Love the songs. I've loved the 'coolness' of showtunes and revival of covers since Glee has come around, and told John that I was pretty easy to buy gifts for as he could just take me to a show for my birthday and anniversary and he'd be set. (Still hasn't picked up on that, but I press on.)
A few weeks ago, we took my niece to see Cats at Wolftrap for an early birthday gift. She'll be 8 in August and that girl is accomplished! She's seen Wicked twice...in LONDON. I love that she loves the musicals as much as I do because now I have an accomplice! If John won't take ME for MY birthday, well...we'll take HER for HERS!
Cats is one of my all-time favorite musicals, if not my favorite. I always have found the music so powerful and strong, even for a 'lighthearted' musical based on an old child's poem. I smiled every second of that show--either because of the music or because my niece just looked so enthralled.
And then my favorite song from Cats came up and I stopped smiling. I FORGOT! I forgot how sad Grizabella'd become. I forgot how bittersweet Memory is. I forgot how powerful it was for me BEFORE I'd had my days in the sun and as I sat there listening...I just poured my eyes out. Sobbing. Hysterically. My niece kept looking at me like she was missing something. John told her to remember I was a sap, and that seemed to settle well with her.
The words pierced my soul:
All alone in the moonlight
I can smile at the old days
I was beautiful then
I remember the time I knew what happiness was...
Let the memory....live again.
I couldn't breathe because I was crying so hard. I thought about how alone I often felt. I sobbed as I thought of smiling at the old days...the days when I had my sweet Matthew with me and we spent time together growing and loving and waiting to be with each other. I WAS beautiful then because I was so happy....I remember that time as the happiest time I'd ever known and as I sat listening to a beautiful voice, I REMEMBERED the time I knew what happiness was...and I silently held my stomach and begged God to let that memory live again.
I must wait for the sunrise
I must think of a new life
And I musn't give in
When the dawn comes
Tonight will be a memory too
And a new day will begin
Let the memory live again...
And to let that memory live again...oh the price!!!! I have to wait for the sunrise!!! I have to think of a new life!!! I have to be able to be ready for a new day to begin. As I sit here and type, I still cry thinking about HOW HARD those words are...how they are so representative of what I was feeling and still do....missing my son and being so optimistic and hopeful for his sister or brother. Feelings that should never have to go together, yet do, in my life, every day.
It's so easy to leave me
All alone with the memory
Of my days in the sun
If you touch me
You'll understand what happiness is...
These words remind me so much of what I often feel and read about and hear from other mommies who have babies in Heaven....that it's so easy to leave ME all alone with my memory...as if it staying tarnishes my happiness or doesn't allow me to grieve in a healthy way. Maybe it makes others uncomfortable or doesn't fit a textbook definition of following the 'grief process'...whatever, I felt like Grizabella....no one wanting to go back there to my days in the sun because that would mean that those WERE my days in the sun.
Well...they were. They were days of bliss and innocence and they ARE gone.
Doesn't mean a new day can't come, though.
As a lover of musicals, one of my Pandora channels is Cats. (LOVE PANDORA!) So, as I'm so good at torturing myself, I've been listening to epic musical numbers from Broadway's best all the time in the car lately. I constantly hear Memory and I constantly cry.
I've added a new one to the repretoire, though...another musical I've always loved is Les Miserables. John and I went to see it in Roanoke when we were first dating (I may have tricked him into thinking I liked the outdoors, but he tricked me into thinking he liked nights at a show!) and it's always been special to me. I Dreamed a Dream has been one of my favorite songs, and the whole wistfulness with which it is sung has always made my heart bleed.
It does in a new way now....of course, the context for my life and Fantine's is totally different, but the words...oh, the words....they mean something to me!
There was a time when love was blind
And the world was a song
And the song was exciting
There was a time
Then it all went wrong...
He slept a summer by my side
He filled my days with endless wonder
He took my childhood in his stride
But he was gone when autumn came
And still I dream he'll come to me
That we'll live the years together
But there are dreams that cannot be
And there are storms we cannot weather
I had a dream my life would be
So much different from this hell I'm living
So different now from what it seemed
Now life has killed
The dream I dreamed.
I heard this again for the first time not too long ago and nearly had to pull the car over because I was just so choked up...Matthew slept a summer by my side...He filled my days with endless wonder...but he was gone when autumn came...
So many, many days...I just wonder how this is my life. How did I end up here?
The dream I dreamed is now a nightmare...punctuated by a grave I visit and daily reminders that this really is my life.
And while those words make me break out into uncontrollable sobs, there are other words that I am so thankful for...
Morning by morning, His mercies are new....
I sing for joy at the work of His hand... (I canNOT contain my joy for the beautiful babies He has given me!)
Be Still...and know that I am God....
Where can I go but to the Lord?
This is the air I breathe...
If I'm honest, I still can't choke out It Is Well...but I know in my heart that one glad morning, it will be.