Good Grief


We all come into the world new. Without our say or knowing, life happens to us. I have had many experiences shape me, which is really the whole purpose of this blog. Reliving moments in time by grabbing the frayed edges of memory.

But recently, something has been part of my story that has shaped me in a painful way. In the pain, music has been healing. For me, it’s been the song “Let It Matter”by Johnnyswim from their album Georgica Pond.

Let me say that no one likes pain, especially pain in grieving. If the sure bets in life are death and taxes, then you’re bound to experience the pain associate with loss. And no one likes it. Why would you? It’s painful. Pain demands to be felt. And no one wants to feel it. The avoidance of it ends up seeping into your life in physical ways. I would know. Because it did with me.

I remember when my brother and sister-in-law told me that they were expecting. I remember the excitement and inherent joy. Meeting someone that has my brother’s ears and my sister-in-law’s creativity? I. am. here. for. it. It was truly thrilling for me to become an aunt. Mostly because I have sassy aunts and have been marking my calendar days until I got to inherit that coveted role.

Sewing is a hobby that my grandmothers kept up. Relics of their heritage, I picked it up because I wanted something I could do to keep them close in my life, since they had been absent for so long. So, I did what my heritage inspires me to do: I sewed for my nephew. I remember the excitement I had making the burp-cloths with foxes dressed in bow ties. So much of me in that project. Practical and cute.

Two weeks before his due date, I got a call.

It’s so foolish to believe you’re immune from that life changing call. That call that tells you the surgery was unsuccessful. That call that tells you that someone is no longer here. That call that tells you that it’s over.

I didn’t realize how foolish I was.

I was at work, pacing around a conference room filled with chalk, fake tattoos, stickers, hula hoops. Signs of my summer spent with kids. I felt it was ironic given what was happening to me.

My nephew died. My sister-in-law went in for an ultrasound and he was dead – two weeks before his due date. I blurt it out, because I still don’t know how to tell people. As mentioned previously, people don’t like pain or grief. It’s hard, uncomfortable, and awkward. The heartbreak of August 18, 2016 continues. Some days it’s a low hum. Some days it’s a high pitched scream. It’s always the 18th of each month – just like today.

The rest of the year brought job changes and distractions from the pain that I avoided. Which is pretty ridiculous, because I was avoiding the unavoidable. I was either sleeping too much or too little. I was experiencing anxiety over the most trivial things.

It was the manifestation of my grief in a very tangible way.

I had heard of Johnnyswim, as most white women have, from the HGTV show Fixer Upper. If you’re living under a rock, it’s a husband and wife that flip houses for clients and this band sings their theme song “Home”.

They released the Georgica Pond album in October, two months after my nephew Wyatt died. I bought the album because of this song. I had read a review of it on NPR, and the couple talked about this song – how the best piece of advice they ever got was to just let grief matter. When you lose something important, it’s okay to feel it. Because it was/is important.

So many times, music helps me get out of my shell, brings my joy, articulates my feelings, and provides healing. Any time I’m feeling any of the previ0us, it’s a gift to listen to something that helps you feel understood.

While every grieving process is different, “Let It Matter” was and still is my anthem as I continue to say goodbye to Wyatt. This ache of missing someone you never got to know. . . It’s just crappy. But I know it’s because it matters. He matters. And I know he will always matter.

Master of Time


Music filled my childhood home.

Not in an overly elaborate, graduation goggles type of way. It truly was filled with music. The daughter of a collegiate level drum major and a choir singer, I knew who John Williams was way before that was socially acceptable.

I distinctly remember listening to The Last of the Mohicans soundtrack on our family stereo and feeling really stoked to participate in the French and Indian War. Or at least run around in our backyard. Same thing, right?

Music has always had the ability to illicit emotion for me. I can listen to a piece and be moved to tears. I can listen to a piece and want to run until my lungs explode. I can listen to a piece and be transported to another time in life.

One that I can recall with such clarity that it’s intense is “Split Screen Sadness” by John Mayer. Heavier Things, his second studio album, it came at a very well timed portion in my life.

As any 16 year old young woman is wont to do, I totally dug John Mayer. When I first heard of him, I instantly swooned. It was a time and an age where guys with acoustic guitars really did something for me. I’ve since moved on, and brains, old timey manners and sense of humor rule. Which is spoken like the true adult I am. But I digress.

His soulful pop tunes and boyish looks, who wouldn’t swoon?! Plus his music was good. There wasn’t any denying it.

When Heavier Things came out, it was a couple of months after the end of a very intense relationship.

Sidebar: I know what you’re thinking. Because I would be thinking it too. “Intense?! Weren’t you like 16?” Yeah, okay. Maybe intense isn’t the right word. But it was the first boyfriend I had said “I love you” to, the first boyfriend that you get butterflies with all the time. That giddy feeling that is a hallmark of young love.

But with that intensity came feelings of jealousy, and pain that felt endless. It burned so hot that it burned. Not to say if the gentleman in question had asked me back – whoa, Nelly. I wouldn’t have hesitated. Because being 16 meant you didn’t mind pain and jealousy, as long as it meant you felt value.

Ultimately, I ended the relationship because I felt like crap. It had reached what felt like a natural ending. Nobody was really to blame, it just. Ended. It was that slow, sneaker upper of an ending. It was like Monty Python & the Holy Grail. It was all of sudden, but not really once you went looking for the obituary.

Being 15/16, and feeling those first breaths of love. It’s just overwhelming. The idea that someone did actually love you – the real you. Little did I know that was just a sneak preview for the true story. The real deal. But that came much later.

I remember going to the Wal-Mart down the street from my parents’ house. The Disney movie Sleeping Beauty had just been released for the first time ever on DVD (that dates me a bit). I always loved Sleeping Beauty because she sleeps through MORE THAN HALF THE MOVIE AND STILL GETS THE GUY. Someone get me her life.

I perused the CD aisle (remember when that was a robust area of the electronics department? Also dates me a bit) and realized John Mayer had just released a new album. Naturally, with my affinity for John, I bought it. I put it in my CD player in my car and listened to it on the way home. Took it out of the car and continued to listen on my stereo at home.

When this song played, it’s opening softness got my attention. It caused me to take pause and flip through the liner notes to read the lyrics. I immediately cried. A surprising facet as I hadn’t cried since the break up, but had cried the months leading up to it. The wave of tears predicting the breakers to come.

Because that song put into words what I was feeling. That’s what great music does, no matter the age or stage of life. It captures those grainy edges of time as it slips like sand between your hands.

I was recently in a store and this song was playing. Somewhat odd considering this was never a single, but in the age of Spotify, I think everything is fair game. I listened, took a deep breath, and smiled.

Smiled at life. Smiled at the intensity of those 16 year old feelings. Smiled at knowing a piece of you, that feels long forgotten, still exists somewhere between the notes.