I recently recorded vocals for an older song named “No Words.” The chorus for “No Words” was written when I was a young girl of seventeen. In 2011, I wrote the verses and finished my song. Instead of being the romantic love song I had originally envisioned, it became a song for my children after the death of my first-born son.
There is irony for me when I sing about how my children have “given me love.” Although that is true, the truth is that motherhood represents a form of love that comes from me to them through every pore of my being.
There are no words to describe the love I feel for my children. And there truly are no words that adequately describe the pain of losing a child.
Links to recent recordings of my song:
Links to other stories about my song:
It was a beautiful spring day. In the morning, I called my 22-year-old daughter to see what we wanted to plan for our lunch together. I threw out an idea that came to me and she was excited. I suggested we go on a hike and have a picnic. I had a certain place in mind.
I packed some sandwiches and snacks for us and off I went to pick her up. Within an hour’s time, I found myself inhaling fresh air and coolness. It was invigorating.
The trailhead was familiar. I had hiked in this place since I was a teenager, but it had been many years since I’d returned.
“Mom, be careful – I don’t want you to fall,” she said as I gingerly stepped over rocks and broken branches to cross a bubbling stream. I was pleased that she was worried about me, but annoyed that I wasn’t that steady; she was aware of it.
My eyesight was foggy and my body stiff. It seemed to me that I definitely felt older than the many times before when I hiked on this trail. Although this outing was beautiful, I noticed how I was quite detached. It was almost as if I were watching myself from afar.
My daughter’s chipper voice and enthusiasm as we hiked amazed me. I remembered dragging all three children on a family hike to this place. On that day, it was a disaster. Each child of mine complained and told me how much they hated the outdoors (and their siblings). But things were clearly different now.
My daughter picked out a huge rock for us to climb up and eat our lunch on. I shimmied up on my behind and was pleased I was able to do it.
My sweat dried and I allowed her sweetness to fill me with pleasure as I pulled out our food. “Mom, I love this sandwich you made – it’s soooo good!” Hearing that felt really nice.
As I ate my sandwich, I said, “I learned about this place when I was dating your dad. We went swimming in one of the rock pools and I had to borrow his boxer shorts. It was so much fun and can you believe we came here on a motorcycle?”
Then I added, “I hiked here with a lot of my friends. One of my best times was with Cheryl. She and I went so far in that we wondered if we’d make it back. It took eight hours! On that day, the stream was gushing and clear. I can’t even describe how beautiful it was.”
As we continued hiking, I remembered that I had even brought my former college teacher there to hike. It was all so long ago.
My daughter smiled and said, “You have a lot of memories here, mommy, and now you have another one – with me!”
She was quite right about that. I couldn’t help reminding her how miserable she was hiking when she was small. She retorted, “Oh, mom – that’s how kids are! It’s a good thing I don’t feel that way now.”
I was surprised when another memory popped into my mind. I had almost forgotten about it. “You know, I even brought Jason here. I carried him in a backpack and another time I brought him here with your grandma, too.”
It was strange for me because with every memory I recounted, I felt nothing.
In my teens, I was always joyful and uplifted after hiking. But as I slowly hiked back to my car with her; I felt deadened and dull. I wished my eyesight were better because it took so much energy to see. I was waiting for new glasses and that was another story.
“Sometimes, there are no words . . .”
Only the day before, I attended a funeral for a man I’d never met. I went because I knew his mother. We were acquaintances and I hadn’t seen her for about five years. But I felt compelled to go.
There were many friends I hadn’t seen for years at the funeral. The strangest moment was when I ran into my older brother. It turned out that the man who died was a friend of his.
Afterwards, I attended a gathering in a home. I caught up with a few people. A lot of things had changed in my life since they had last seen me.
When a video montage began playing, people became quiet and gathered to watch. I sat down and the bereaved mom was right next to me. After the video ended, people continued their conversations.
It was noisy and the video continued to loop. The mother stared at it blankly.
Her intense shock and disbelief were hard to witness. I reached over to gently touch her shoulder and mumbled a few caring statements. I mentioned how I had also suffered when my son died.
She briefly looked away from the video and said, “How long ago was that?”
I told her it was in 1992. She quickly turned back to watch the video with large anguished eyes.
I hesitated and then I asked her if she would like to have lunch with me sometime. She told me she wasn’t ready for that.
I told her I hoped one day maybe she’d be able to.
As I left, I grabbed a few cookies. It was my way of soothing whatever feelings might arise.
On the weekend, I looked forward to seeing Connie, my hypnotherapist. Before hypnosis, we always discussed how my week went so I could decide how she might help me. Our sessions often turned things around for me.
All week long I was fighting a cold. Thankfully, it wasn’t a bad one but I felt like I had a heavy blanket over me. My eyes weren’t as good as they had been and the discomfort was challenging to deal with again.
I shared with Connie how detached I felt over the past week. I said, “I had a few situations and they were filled with reminders of both heaven and hell. I went on a hike and that represented heaven; I went to a funeral and that represented hell.”
I knew that numbness was a familiar coping method for me. On the day of the funeral, I was strangely calm and distant. I wondered if perhaps that had carried over to the next day when I had hiked with my daughter.
I said aloud, “I wanted to appreciate that beautiful day.” Then I added, “But I think in the back of my mind, I carried the thought that something bad might happen. What if she or I died suddenly?” Certainly, the recent death of a healthy man who was stricken with a deadly virus had influenced my thinking.
Once again, the ugly old mindset of “skating on thin ice” reappeared. It was difficult to appreciate great moments when I projected that it could end at any time.
I was definitely grateful that I wasn’t dealing with deep grief anymore, but sometimes I felt like someone who was released from a prison. I was not like other people – I remembered the prison and would never be the same person I was before that experience.
I also reached out to people who were in that prison because I wanted them to know that one day they might be released. But although I was free, the awareness was always there that the prison stole so much of my life.
Connie listened and I felt encouraged to find another way to think about all this.
Survival was something I was proud of, but feeling happiness was something I strived for each and every day. I didn’t want to sink back into old mindsets that brought me down.
Carrying a story about being released from a prison only led to sadness. I hoped I could find another story to replace it – one that would lift my mood instead.
While under hypnosis, my tears began to gush. After so much numbness – I was ready to feel again even if it were painful.
I openly wept and said, “I have many beautiful memories, but I’m sad because so much loss is associated with them. But even if I could go back and live in the past – I wouldn’t want to. I am exactly where I want to be.”
My eyes were closed and as I continued to drift I could hear Connie repeating my statement back to me. I awoke from hypnosis to see her smiling. She said, “Wow, that is so beautiful – to know that you are exactly where you want to be.”
It was true. There was no place or part of my life I wanted to go back to.
Never in a million years could I ever have imagined I would be where I was today. I was free and I was blessed.
Now I want to share some correspondence with my friend, Sammi (her son died three years ago):
I attended a funeral for an acquaintance’s son yesterday. I was numb and there wasn’t anything I could do or say. I think I felt guilty that I was able to leave and feel fine when her hell was just beginning.
I tried to reach out to this woman, but she told me not to call her – she said she’d let me know if she wanted company. But I’ll reach out later on. I know grief screams out then.
Don’t beat yourself up over this Judy. You understand what she is going through and that is all you need concern yourself with. We are only human. Having gone through what she is going through we can offer ourselves to help them, but we cannot take away their pain and suffering, nor do we want to. I don’t believe anyone could do that and continue to survive.
I don’t think detachment is a bad way to feel when dealing with these situations, not for us anyway. You detach from the immediate, from the agonizing pain, from the gut punch of it all . . . you don’t detach from being there, from understanding and from showing support. You were there to offer your condolences. I am sure she will realize that many were not at some date.
I also understand wanting to be alone. She has checked out of her life for the moment but hopefully will return at some point and, if needed, she can call you. It is easier for some of us until we get our grief legs.
You can’t force what isn’t wanted no matter how much it is needed. Love to you Judy.
I appreciate your words, Sammi. It makes sense and deep down I knew it.
I like that phrase: grief legs – so very true.
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