Thursday, March 1, 2012


In a bookclub meeting several months ago, we discussed The Silver Linings Playbook (which, as an aside, I recommend reading).  In this book there is a song that triggers a very visceral, highly emotional reaction in the protagonist and one of our bookclub members asked us to name the song that caused the most emotional reaction for each of us.  We went 'round the room...

and I was literally the only one who didn't share an answer on the premise that I couldn't think of one.

But I really could.  And I can't explain what stopped me from sharing it.  

I believe we all have a "soundtrack" to our lives. For me, I can't think of my childhood without hearing the Beatles Abby Road album which I could sing every word of at age 4.  I still sing Golden Slumbers to CB every night.  When I was a bit older it was Fleetwood Mac's Rumors along with Grease, Saturday Night Fever, Carol King and Elton John (Man, I am totally dating myself right now).  Then I got obsessed with Pink Floyd's The Wall.  When I think of high school,  I think of The Violent Femmes, The Cure, Depeche Mode and Old School U2.  I was too drunk in college to remember what the hell we were listening to in those smelly clubhouse frat parties, but I'm sure if I heard those tunes today, I'd have flashbacks.  I think it involved a lot of R.E.M. and Nirvana.

In adulthood, songs not only provided the back beat to the saga and stages of my life, but began to hold deep and significant meaning.  There were songs I remember comforting me during an unexpected pregnancy.  Michael Nyman's soundtrack from the movie The Piano played in the hospital room when CB was born. Various songs helped me through the end of my first marriage, those 2 years of being alone, and the vulnerability of finding new love.  Of course, there was Etta James singing At Last in her textured voice which accompanied my first dance with Dr. Fabulous on our wedding day.

But even with all these songs representing my journey, there is one song that holds more meaning than words can express, because it shared such a pivotal moment in my life.

The song is Green Day's Time Of Your Life.  It played on the radio as my first husband and I drove away from the Developmental Neurologist's office about 15 years ago.   We sat together in silence as he piloted our Ford 4-Runner down the highway and away from the diagnoses we just heard.  Each of us processing the shocking news that our perfect 2 year old daughter, who had struggled with a crazy, uncontrolled seizure disorder,  was now diagnosed with Autism and cognitive impairments and that (in the blunt words of the doctor) she would "never lead an independent life."

Head buzzing, feeling as if I were floating through a dream, I sat numb staring out the window at a familiar landscape streaming by like streaks of watercolor; like the world being yanked away from me.  The radio, humming softly through my daze, rattled me when the opening acoustic chords of Time of Your Life sliced through my awareness.  Every word fell heavy with meaning, as if God had pushed the play button right at that moment.  As if the words were meant for no one else in the world but us.

Another turning point a fork stuck in the road.
Time takes you by the wrist 
directs you where to go.
So make the best of this test and don't ask why.
It's not a question but a lesson learned in time.

It's something unpredictable
but in the end it's right.
I hope you've had the time of your life.

My world had just been axed wide open and inside of it was something incomprehensibly different than anything I'd known. It was so foreign and unexpected and scary and overwhelming that in those 10 minutes after having our guts punched, we couldn't quite right the world that toppled over.  We would - eventually - but not at that moment.  At that moment we lived in a bubble of time feeling a temporary but necessary loss.

When I looked over at CB's dad during the final chorus, I saw his face was wet with a thousand tears pouring directly out of a grieving heart. And with that, I lost it.

I cannot hear that song without reliving that day.
The day when everything changed.
The day I lost and found a little girl.
The day I put my faith and hope in the only thing that remained from my former life...
the only thing that still made sense...
the only thing left I still knew how to do -

So, I ask - what song most tells your story?


Elizabeth said...

I will have to think about it -- and I certainly don't think I could articulate it as beautifully as you've done here.

I must tell you that the photo of CB is astonishing -- the light, her eyes, the beads. Have I ever told you about my Sophie's life-long love of beads?

kario said...

Holy crap. You have just sliced me open with this. I had chills running down my legs as I heard the song in my head. Such a perfect set-up as you listed the music you grew up with - I grew up with the same music at the same time and could totally relate and then when you wrote about Green Day I cracked.

I am in awe of your ability to answer this question so completely and with such vulnerability and honesty. What a treasure you are.

As for me, I can say that the song that most resonates with me is Anna Nalick's "Breathe." Especially the line where she says "you're just as far in as you'll ever be out." It reminds me how far I've come and that going back just means redoing some of these things and that, I don't want to do. So I breathe and keep moving forward.

Thank you for this. It is beautiful. And I'm with Elizabeth, that photo of CB is glorious.

Alicia (Dr. Mom) said...

kari- i LOVE that Anna Nalick song too! and Elizabeth - sophie and CB are like kindred spirits... even the BEADS are in common :)

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