SilenceYears ago, I came across a story about a young woman who was an aspiring singer. Lynn did all the usual singing in choirs and solo performances through high school, and was working on a degree in music at a renowned college. She would say that while music was her life, singing transcended life. Vocal ex
While out one night with friends, Lynn slipped on a patch of ice on the sidewalk and fell, striking the side of her head on a concrete curb. She was unconscious, drifting somewhere between “normal” unconsciousness and a coma for three weeks. Her family was by her bedside for the entire time, and all the doctors could really tell them during those terrible days was that they just needed to wait; if and until she woke up, there was no way to assess the true damage that had been done to her young brain. All they knew was that there had been significant swelling, but that the swelling was slowly improving.
The weeks passed and Lynn awoke. The progression from that first opening of her eyes to sitting on the side of the bed went quickly, and even the doctors were amazed that with just a few weeks of therapy, Lynn’s movements, speech, and memory were almost completely restored. No one gave much thought to singing at that point, but Lynn’s mother noticed something that quietly unsettled, even frightened her.
There are few bonds as deep and complex as those between mother and daughter, and Lynn and her mother were certainly no exception. As her mother watched her daughter’s rapid recovery, she also noticed the one thing that was missing… humming. For as long as she could remember, her daughter had hummed… notes, melodies, orchestral pieces… her repertoire was wide, and the music constant. When Lynn was barely five years old, her mother had asked about the humming and Lynn had replied matter-of-factly, “It’s just the music I hear.” Even as Lynn grew older, she found it hard to articulate exactly what that meant. The best desc
Lynn left the hospital and came to stay with her parents for a few weeks until her recovery was complete. It only took a few days for the terrible truth to come out. The third morning, Lynn’s mother came to check on her as the doctors had instructed and she found her daughter curled up in the fetal position, her body wracked by sobs, her tears soaking the pillow. Lynn’s sobs quieted, as she lay in the protected circle of her mother’s arms, her breath still ragged as she confirmed what her mother had been suspecting. “Mom. The music is gone. It’s just gone.” They both cried quietly, each for something different, both for what they had lost.
In the end, no doctor could explain why the music stopped, and none had a clue as to how to bring it back. Lynn briefly returned to singing, but the joy was missing and it was now just notes on a page to be followed. Her voice was still beautiful, her tone still danced around perfection, but that indefinable “thing” that made people stop in their tracks to listen when Lynn sang was gone… the music was gone.
I can’t imagine the frustration and sadness she experienced, and likely continues to live with. Lynn would remark years later that while life, and she, certainly moved on, not a day went by that she didn’t have a feeling of missing something, a feeling that a critical part of her had been ripped away… that feeling we all get when something or someone important is gone from our lives. As a writer, I can relate all too well to Lynn’s plight.
Someone recently asked me why I wasn’t writing these days. As much as it pains me to admit, the simple truth is that the voice is gone; the voice that was constantly, insistently whispering words, phrases, and stories in the quiet recesses of my mind has gone mute, replaced by a frightening, deafening silence. Thankfully, no physical injury is involved, so I remain hopeful that my muse will again find her voice… that hope can be encouraging and debilitating, both, paradoxically, at the same time.
So now I sit in front of the keyboard, waiting, often impatiently, for the music to start… for that voice to quietly clear its throat and begin whispering again… for those words to flow, as if by magic, from beyond my imagination, through my fingers, to spill across the blank page in front of me. Until then, I sit and listen to Lynn’s quiet crying, sometimes feeling the hot trail of her tears.
The music is gone. It’s just gone.
Copyright 2011 - SouthernThunder/CMR