There is Music

When there are only a few words, there is music.

When most words have been left behind, there is music.

“Mom, how are you doing?”
“Okay”

That would be the extent of what she’d say during her son’s visits.

Unless the iPod was off. Then he’d ask,

“Mom, would you like me to put on the music?”
“Oh, yes.”

Almost without exception: “Oh, yes.” For a woman of few words, that says a lot.

The soundtrack from Out of Africa (John Barrie).
Enya. Lots of Enya.
Classical music. Over 12 hours of it.
Some Christmas music that I put on the iPod last year.
Gregorian Chant.

“Do you want to listen to music, Mom?”
“Oh, yes.”

I gave her the Out of Africa soundtrack a coupla Christmases ago. She’d grown less comfortable with her CD player, and even though I wrote out step-by-step directions for how to play CDs, she was still skittish about using her stereo. During that visit, we played the album. She sat on the couch and exclaimed how beautiful it was, how she loved music, and how she wished she’d had this music during a recent hard time.

. . . . . .

Twenty-one years ago, when I was going through a rough time, I was visited by a friend. A musician (bassoonist, conductor). I poured out my woes to him. He said, “Susan, do you have good music to listen to while you’re going through this?”

Several years ago, I got a phone call from a friend. Her mother just had a stroke. She was unconscious. She loved Irish music. I handed over a zipper-case full of disks. My friend played them for her mother. For herself while she was with her mother over the next few days. My friend told me that Enya was a particular favorite, that she could almost see her mother relax. Her mother was far beyond words, but the music went in and somehow touched her soul, and helped to ease her out of this life.

My friend told me how good it was to have that music. So good. (I’m not sure, but I think she still might have the Enya disks)

. . . . . .

These are the reasons why I insisted on making the playlists and putting together the iPod and speaker dock for my boyfriend’s mother. Because there is music. Especially when so many other things are gone, and words are too few.

She died in the wee hours of Thursday morning. Her lungs failed.

The hospital called my boyfriend. He called his sister, then called me. I went to the hospital; he’d already arrived.

In a confusing moment while I was–while we were– still taking it all in, beginning to adjust to this new and final reality, the nurse came into the room. She pointed out her belongings, began unplugging the iPod dock. “I’ll deal with that,” I said. I did not know that this nurse was present when my boyfriend’s mother passed out of this life. She did not know that the iPod and dock belonged to me.

For the last nine days of her life, there was music.

and for that I am very, very glad.

8 responses to “There is Music”

  1. bill

    That is the most beautiful thing I have read in quite some time. Thank you for publishing it.

  2. ralph

    My condolences to you and Doc M, Susan.

  3. Mary Lu

    Suz– Dr. D and my thoughts and prayers are with you and Doc’. You’re due one big hug. ‘Just because.

    In the end, it is being there for him– for her and doing the comforting things that bring peace and civility to the situation that are the most important things you can do.

    Need anything? Call I will be there in a flash.

  4. Hal

    Audrey and I send our condolences and sympathy to Doc M., you and your families.

  5. High

    There are just few things that can compare to music.
    Music is life.
    [ http://severina.tk ]

  6. Susan A. Kitchens

    Bill, thanks and you’re welcome. Ralph, Mary Lu and Hal, I’ve read your comments to Doc M (indeed I read him this post before I clicked the ‘publish’ button). Thanks much for your thoughts.

    MaryLu, you said it so well. It is deeply satisfying to do good, and to treat other people well.

  7. Julie

    Yes, beautiful. And yes, sending along our sympathies. Hugs to you and Doc M. Thank you for the beauty. And thanks for teaching me.

  8. Poetry at odd time signatures

    […] Susan Kitchens – There is Music: These are the reasons why I insisted on making the playlists and putting together the iPod and speaker dock for my boyfriend’s mother. Because there is music. Especially when so many other things are gone, and words are too few. […]