Shuffle: The Soundtrack of Grief

“Think of Me”

I remember coming home from school when I was seven. My mother would be at work by then. She would leave the Phantom of the Opera soundtrack playing on repeat and it would always be playing when I came home and walked into the living room. It felt as if she was still there. After a while it occurred to me that she was leaving it on so that her presence was felt when she couldn’t be there. As I got older, I’d put it on myself; I’d listen to it all the time. When I hear it I can nearly smell her rose perfume, I can see the reddish brown waves, the green eyes, and the twinkle in her smile. Her voice so clear and beautiful that she sounded like a professional singer.

It’s been nearly four months since my mother suddenly died. Now that she’s gone, it feels as if she has still left the music on for me to remember her by.

It stings to hear it. I usually turn it right off, but sometimes I let the music play and let it sweep over me, just a little bit. It’s pain and beauty and love and loss and it breaks my heart and heals it at the same time.

Sometimes I feel as if she’s gone. Sometimes I feel her presence stronger than ever. In music I feel as if she’s met me halfway, somewhere between this world and the next.

“Us Against The World”

Whenever I hear this, I remember hearing it as I followed the car to the hospital, my heart pounding against my chest. I had no idea that she’d be gone the next afternoon, but on the other hand, I felt a sense of impending doom like I’d never felt before. If you had asked me before what the worst thing that could happen was, I’d never say losing my mother, because its beyond the worst that I ever could have imagined. I remember when I was a child and I’d wait by the window or the door, waiting for her to show up. Eventually I’d see her figure appear in the street walking towards me, or hear her voice, and I’d feel safe. Now I feel like that child again, achingly desperate for her to come back but knowing that this time, it’s not going to happen.

“Don’t Stop Believin'”

Our favorite song together. We sang it all the time. Whenever it came on, we’d stop everything and sing it together. We all would.

One of my last moments with her, I was driving her home from the hospital in the middle of the night. My sister and brother slept soundly in the car with us. I played a Journey playlist that I had made specially for her and we sang together the whole way home, for once our voices in complete harmony. Weeks after her death, I drove my niece home and we sang the same tunes together. I could feel a touch of her presence there, silently singing with us along our journey home.

Sometimes, if I look towards where she’d sit, I can still see a glimmer of her there as I drive on alone.

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