Stumbling Toward the Light

"We are closest to God in the darkness, stumbling along blindly" -- Madeleine L'Engle

A collection of thoughts and messages I wrote after my daughter died May 17, 2000. Primarily this blog is concerned with grief, bereavement, the death of a child, hope, courage and a tough faith journey.

Location: Kansas, United States

Husband, father of four, friend, dog owner, owned by a cat, Episcopalian, last liberal Republican left in the U.S.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Music and Grief

[An article I wrote for the October 2010 newsletter of the Racine/Kenosha, Wisconsin Compassionate Friends Newsletter]

One day when Rachel was about five years old I took her to the grocery store with me. As we went up and down the aisles some boring muzak was playing over the intercom. Rachel however was spinning and dancing nearby me and I noticed people staring.

I leaned over and whispered, "What are you doing?"

Smiling she replied, "I'm dancing to the music."

"Rachel, the music is not quite that fast paced!," I hissed.

She looked at me... surprised and big eyed and responded, "Not THAT music! Can't you hear the music that I hear, Daddy?"

Lately, each night when I get home I put a CD into the player and listen to a song, “Beauty Will Rise,” by Steven Curtis Chapman. Chapman lost his daughter, Maria Sue in a tragic car accident in 2008. The beat of the song and the words lift me up... give me hope on the most hopeless of days:

"Out of these ashes... beauty will rise
and we will dance among the ruins
We will see it with our own eyes.
Out of this darkness new light will shine
And we’ll know the joy that's coming in the morning...
in the morning... Beauty will rise!"

Music is a very personal means of finding peace, expressing anger or dancing in the grocery aisle. It can touch on the deepest pain, the most heartfelt hope or some deep, abiding joy. Sometimes it expresses what we can't put into words ourselves or even form in our minds. It howls, sighs, regrets and rejoices.

Music can bring back memories and visions of those we love:
--A man who tears up any time he hears a song sung by the Sesame Street character, Elmo. His toddler son loved to sing with Elmo.
--A mother who had "Ropin The Wind" put on her son's gravestone, the title of an album by her son’s favorite singer, Garth Brooks.
--"Forever Young," a Rod Stewart song title, tattooed on the arm of the sister of a young man who died in a motorcycle accident.

Is there a right or wrong music? Nope. What works for you and is healthy is what’s best. Of course playing “Beauty Will Rise” every night loudly might get you in trouble with your spouse/partner so some discretion might be advised there.

I dance to the music inside me and wonder why no one else can hear the song. What’s playing in your mind?

Bill Sowers
Rachel's Dad


Blogger amanda said...

Beautiful essay on how music and memories are intertwined. I'm glad I got to start my day with this.

8:15 AM  

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