When I am having a particularly sad day, the best thing for me to do is to get in my car and drive around with the music up almost unbearably loud. Sometimes I listen to my CDs, sometimes the radio, and sometimes I turn it off and put the windows down and let the sound and feel of the wind drive the heavy thoughts and feelings from my mind and heart.
This past weekend was just such a time, and I wasted a lot of gasoline. I suppose, though, it is not wasting it when it brings me comfort. I chose a CD I bought awhile back but hadn’t yet listened to, for my blaring background music. It was Garth Brooks’ “best of” CD. I kept the jewel case in my lap so I could pick it up and see what each song was as it came on. I know, I know, I’m a bit old school. I like it that way.
About an hour into driving around and listening to Garth’s lovely country twang, a song came on I’d never heard of – Learning to Live Again. I almost skipped it on the basis of its name alone, but I chose to brave it and listen to at least the first verse and the chorus. Toward the end of the chorus I was glad I had. The last line gave voice to my feelings so succinctly – “This learning to live again is killing me.”
If that doesn’t hit the nail on the head, I don’t know what will.
I told my husband about this song and he immediately laughed. I was tempted to be offended at him for taking lightly what seemed very serious to me, and told him it wasn’t funny. To which he responded, “I’m laughing because I so relate to that”. As usual. I should know not to be offended. We are frequently in the same emotional place or frame of mind.
This learning to live again is killing me. Not literally, though there have been times I have wished for that. Emotionally speaking, though, this living with something I hoped would never happen in my family is so exhausting it feels like it could kill me.
Musing on this means of coping with sorrow has me thinking about my journey over the past 34 months and the part driving around listening to music has played (no pun intended!) Music is so important in our lives – it soothes, it excites, it inspires, and it can distract, which is one of the reasons I drive around and listen to music when I cannot overcome my sorrowful thoughts any other way.
I can see a progression through my grief when I remember the different songs I’ve listened to as I drove around these past 34 months. I’ve always enjoyed driving around listening to music, but before my son passed away it was more as a means of entertainment . Now, it is my therapy between therapy sessions.
For the first few months after our son passed away I don’t remember listening to anything but the screaming noise in my head. It was all-consuming, relentless and impossible to ignore. I could sit and stare at nothing for hours at a time, not because I was bored or even depressed, but because I was frozen in time and paralyzed by the relentless sound of pain in my mind. I can’t explain it any other way. Pain that intense is loud. At least it is for me. And it takes up too much space in my brain for there to be any other sound. The times I was aware of the loudness in my head and needed relief, I would drive around listening to the classic rock station on my radio, turned up as loud as I could stand it.
About a year after our son died, The David Crowder band released an album entitled Neon Steeple. I purchased it, but couldn’t listen to it for a long time. When I finally did, the song that prompted me to purchase the CD became what I told my husband was my new theme song, and helped me refocus my thoughts and emotional energy on God again. The song is called I Am, and it played through my mind night and day, like the anthem of my life, drawing me to a place where I could accept God as good again, and trust Him like I had before the tragedy. Of course, this road is, always has been, and I’m starting to think, always will be an up and down road. But this song brought me a measure of peace and helped me to hold onto God in the middle of the storm.
There’s no space that His love can’t reach
There’s no place where we can’t find peace
There’s no end to Amazing Grace
Take me in with your arms spread wide
Take me in like an orphan child
Never let go, never leave my side
Holding onto you
Holding onto you
In the middle of the storm
I am holding on
Skipping ahead almost 2 years, I recently reconnected with a song and artist from many years ago – back in the late 70’s and early 80’s – when my husband and I first committed our lives to the Lord and began learning of Him. Keith Green is the artist, and the song is O, Lord, You’re Beautiful. I love songs that declare the goodness of the Lord, and I usually only remember the lines of a worship song that do that, which is true of this song. I didn’t know, until I looked up the lyrics to this song, that it was a letter Keith wrote to the Lord. I love that he would write a letter to the Lord – a worshipful prayer, imploring the Lord to reignite the flame that was growing dim in his heart. That is my take on it, anyway. And, that is my prayer today.
O Lord, You’re beautiful. Your face is all I seek. For when Your eyes are on this child, Your Love abounds to me.
Oh Lord, my body’s tired, but You keep reminding me of many holy tireless men who spilt their blood for Thee.
I want to take Your word and shine it all around, but first help me just to live it, Lord. And if I’m doing well, help me to never make a sound except to give all the glory to You.
Oh Lord, my faith is small and I need a touch from you. Your Book of books lies undisturbed, and the prayers from me too few.
Oh Lord, please light the fire that once burned bright and clear. Replace the lamp of my first love that’s fueled with holy fear.
I want to take Your word and shine it all around, but first help me just to live it, Lord. And if I’m doing well, please help me to never make a sound except to give all the glory to You.
Oh Lord, You’re beautiful. Your face is all I seek. For when Your eyes are on this child Your faith abounds to me.
So many miles driven and so many songs listened to throughout the 34 months since my son died. They’ve taken me from the deepest, darkest pit I could ever imagine being in, to a place of peace, sanity, and even hope. I am so thankful for a trustworthy vehicle and music that soothes my soul.