I've been a singer for years. From chorus in elementary school and middle school, to concert choirs and voice training in high school and college, music was always a passion. I tried playing the trumpet for a year in middle school, but it didn't stick. See, it was never about the notes to me - even after 12 years of voice training, I can't read notes and wouldn't be able to "hit an a" if you asked me to on the spot - it's about the words; the meaning. Sure, the swell and recesion of a symphony is moving to me and I enjoy it; I appreciate it, but I don't feel it as I do the lyrics. I must know hundreds of song lyrics and a turn of phrase or random bit of everyday conversation can lead me to break into song at any given time. I have a joke with friends that I have a song for everything for that very reason. And times of sadness are no different.
I've often turned to music to deal with a broken heart, grief or just the cathartic release of a bad day. So I wasn't really surprised when I broke into tears while listening to iTunes and cleaning my bathroom on Tuesday night. The random shuffle had landed on "Touch My Heart" by Beth Nielsen Chapman and I got pulled into the lyrics:
There are songs I love that catch my breath
When the first chord starts to play
Effortless and true, it's funny but I knew
You would always touch my heart that way
And it hurts so much to let you go
And there are no words to say
But the corner of your smile says all I need to know
You could always touch my heart that way
That, coupled with the fact that my family is facing the loss of my great aunt so soon on the heels of my great uncle's death in November, just took over and I was sniffling into my Soft Scrub. And now I know that I'll always associate this song with my great aunt Marge.
My grandmother will forever be linked with Nichole Nordeman's "Small Enough." My grandfather with Reba McEntire's "The Greatest Man I Never Knew." And, a few years ago, a coworker's husband very suddenly collapsed and later passed. For him, I always go to "If I Had Only Known," also by Reba McEntire.
Sure, my eyes well up and my nose tingles with tears when I hear any and all of these songs. But it's a good thing. It means I'm grieving; I'm feeling and growing and healing and living . . . and remembering. If a picture can say a thousand words, a song can spark a thousand memories. And, even the sad ones -- especially the sad ones -- can have a special kind of solace.