I saw a post at the beginning of the summer that said “some days I need the music and some days I need the lyrics”. I could not agree more! I grew up in a house full of music. My grandma sang in the church choir. My dad played the saxophone and the piano. I learned piano at age 5. I played the Clarinet in grade school band. I sang in choir and musical theater all throughout high school. When I was 3 years old I knew all of the words to “Sultans of Swing” by Dire Strait. When I was 5 I jumped on my uncle’s water bed and belted the lyrics to the Beach Boy’s “Kokomo”. Music has always been a part of my life. It provides the soundtrack to so many moments, good and bad.
As a pre-teen I listened to the music of the 90s – loaded with teen angest and underlying messages – which I could not even begin to understand in all of my thirteen years of wisdom. I thought that Blind Melon’s “No Rain” was really about them wanting the sun to come out. Literally. Not figuratively as I understand it today. I whined along with the Cranberries and I shouted along with the Beastie Boys. I listened to Biggie and pretended I was hard core. Let the record show, I was the farthest thing from hard core.
In my late teenage years music helped me grieve loss. Even today when I hear the first few notes of “Angel” by Sarah McLaughlin the hairs on my arms rise and my heart floods with memories of losing my grandma. And when I feel like I am losing faith I put on “Higher” by Creed and I am surrounded by memories of my friend Josh and thoughts of a life taken way too soon. These songs remind me to be thankful for the life I am blessed to live every day. They represent moments in time. They make even the most painful moments seem just a little bit sweeter.
In my twenties music marked every single up and down of my personal relationships. Many a Howie Day and John Mayer song played on repeat after a breakup. The cheesiest of love songs were labeled as “our song” each time I entered a new relationship. And, I can so clearly recall the melodies and words that lifted me up and carried me through the ending of my first marriage. Music marked the beginning and the end of love; and all of the moments in between.
In my thirties I connect music to so many different moments in my life. It symbolizes motherhood. Struggles. Moments of strength. And moments that hold me down. Music has the incredible ability to become what you need it to be.
My fight song, “Rise Up” by Andra Day makes me feel so strong. This song is the anthem for my journey on the spectrum with Gray. It has saved me from myself on so many days. When I need to tune the world out for a minute and let myself just breathe. It creates that space for me. It gives me permission to feel weak. And then it gives me the strength to move forward. Stronger. Better. And maybe just a little braver.
This summer I discovered the song “Remedy” by Adele. I know, how in the world did I just discover this song? At the beginning of the summer a dear friend started a very difficult and painful divorce. When I found this song I listened to it over and over again on repeat. I felt as if this song had been given to me to help my friend find strength. To be healed. I believed as the words said, “when the pain cuts you deep, when the night keep you from sleeping. Just look and you will see, that I will be your remedy.” What a beautiful ideal. The remedy that saves you from pain. The thing that pulls you back from the edge. Back from sadness. From loss. From heartbreak. From the end of something. Into the beginning of something else.
I decided that my friend would find the remedy to her loss. If for no other reason than because Adele said so! And, as I thought about her loss and prayed for her remedy, I realized that I myself felt loss. The kind of loss that parents feel when their child is different from other children. When they accept the life they planned may be very different from the life they will live.
I myself needed remedy. Remedy to give me strength. Remedy to keep going. Remedy to heal my heart. Help me be better. Braver. I believed. And I waited.
And as I waited I realized something important; neither of us were going to be saved by a magical remedy. No one was going to sweep in and wipe away our pain. Fix what needed fixing. Mend what needing mending. Heal what needed healing. The truth is that we were already our own remedy. In our own way we pulled ourselves out of the things that could have held us down. We survived the things that could have swallowed us whole. We feet pain and sadness and loss. And then we find the strength to rise against it. To push. To fight. To be healed.
And ironically, we are fighting two completely different things. But somehow the fight feels the same. We both just want to be better. And because back is not an option; we keep moving forward. We endure the unendurable every single day. Because the stakes are high. Because happiness is the reward. Because it is all we know to do. We find a way, each and every day, to remedy ourselves from the obstacles standing in our way.
Somedays I need the music, but today I needed the lyrics.