I have always used music to create a soundtrack of my life. To carry me through long drives and heavy feelings. To push through a tough workout. To set the mood in my home. To connect with other people and share my inner world through harmonic expression.
In the first months after Tim’s death, I listened to music incessantly. Silence was too open and vulnerable, so I would carry my phone with me to play songs for the shower, in the car, cooking dinner, and in my back pocket just walking around the house. I play music as I lay in bed and let whatever needs to wash over and through me in that moment. Music was, and still is, a constant companion. I have used music to feel when I could not. I have used music to alter my mood and state of mind. I have used music to process the unfamiliar anger and sadness that has pierced my being and transformed my human form.
When Tim was in the hospital, I played music for him all day every day. Aimee Mann and Conor Oberst. I wanted to give him love and comfort in any way I could, and music was something I could give him even when I couldn’t be in the room with him. It was mental and emotional stimulation. It was comfort. It was something I could do in my most helpless hours.
One song stuck with me through Tim’s hospital stay, Bahamas’ “Lost In The Light”
The lyrics took on new meaning as I saw Tim struggling to survive, the ventilator breathing for his lungs and dialysis functioning for his kidneys. I struggled with the reality of what his future might hold should he survive. With severe brain damage. With physical and emotional turmoil. With months to years of rehab and recuperation. With half a dead heart.
“So if someone could see me now, let them see you
Let them see you
See you through
All the hard things we’ve all gotta do
‘Cause this life is long
So you wouldn’t be wrong
Bein’ free here with me on my own…”
I listened on repeat. In the shower. On the subway. Through the nights I couldn’t sleep. It helped me connect with my love. Lost in the light.
After Tim died I couldn’t feel anything. Nothing. My brain drifted just above my body on a thin string tethered to my torso. So I used music to bring me back into myself. To feel anything at all. One bad night, my dear friends Sam and Maddy sent me Neko Case’s “The Fox Confessor Brings the Flood” and Brandi Carlile’s “Give Up The Ghost”. These albums became my new support system. Neko’s haunting voice carried me through the new emotional world that was unfolding within me. Brandi’s power and vulnerability gave me focus, drive, confidence. I didn’t feel so alone.
Then came Paul Simon’s Graceland.
“And she said losing love
Is like a window in your heart
Everybody sees you’re blown apart
Everybody sees the wind blow”
No truer words have been spoken.
And The Mountain Goats’ “This Year”. My new anthem I listened to with open windows. Driving a bit to fast with the speakers blaring far too loud.
And Mavis Staple’s “You are Not Alone”. Because I’m not. And neither are you.
I don’t listen to most of the music I used to. Some I just can’t. I continue to discover and uncover new songs that bring support and meaning to my day-to-day.
I’m starting to sing again.
I took out my guitar today.
I’m medicating myself with daily doses of harmonic and lyrical resonance.