Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Melodies and Memories

It's no secret music can evoke all sorts of memories.

Country music star Eric Church sings about it in his song Springsteen, which, while released in 2011, didn't see much air play until Summer 2012 - after Addie was gone. If you don't believe me on my dates, look it up. After months of not listening to anything but the sound of my own voice asking why, why, why, I found myself driving down the road one day and flipping on the radio and hearing Church sing about the power and pull one song can have.

Funny how a melody sounds like a memory, like a soundtrack to a 
July Saturday Night.

It's true, you know.

Whether it's an opening riff or a refrain we just can't get out of our heads, songs can take us back to another time and another place where, maybe, we were entirely different people.

I know if I hear Juice Newton's Queen of Hearts I'm instantly transported back to 1983. There I sit, wedged between mom and dad in the front seat of our old Pontiac as we wind our way down a mountain road. There's me hitting the rewind button over and over again, listening to the sound of the tape literally spinning and shredding out of control, before giving way to the sweet strums of a guitar.

Anything by the Steve Miller Band and I'm sitting in the back of a bus riding home from a high school track meet. Our faces are sweat-streaked. And wind whips through the windows, stirring up dust and stories that probably shouldn't be repeated.

College brought an eclectic mix of Ace of Base, Offspring, George Strait, and just about any song that was released on a Jock Jams CD. I can call that eclectic, right?

And motherhood? That was marked by Elmo's Favorite Songs I and II, Sheryl Crow, and me and Addie belting out Jackson along with Johnny and June as we drove down Highway 6.

Picture this girl singing I Don't Feel Like Loving You Today
by Gretchen Wilson.

These days my iPhone serves as a time capsule of sorts. I haven't added a whole lot of music since Addie died, partly because, well, how dare the music industry keep cranking out hits when my daughter is gone? And partly because the only reason I even had money in my iTunes account was because Addie didn't have a chance to spend all of the $15 on the iTunes gift card I'd given her for Valentine's Day.

So, as I plug in my ear buds and head off for a run, it's either a pleasant stroll down memory lane or a harrowing walk through a minefield, depending on which songs come up on my playlist.

If I hear the boom, boom, clap, boom de-clap, de-clap of Hannah Montana's Hoedown Throwdown, I'm reminded of a much, much simpler time when Addie and her friends Adiah and Olivia worked through their school talent show routine (and also of a young lady who was known more for her best of both worlds TV show than what she can do with a foam finger).

This is the girl I picture when I hear
anything from High School Musical
or Hannah Montana.

Anything by Adele and I'm running, running, running down the road or on a treadmill when my only reason for running was to shave off a few pounds and stay in shape. And that's what I opted to do on March 19, 2012, the day before Addie's cancer diagnosis. She was getting better. Her fever had gone down. She was going to go back to school the next day, certainly it was OK to steal away for 30 minutes at the fitness center.

So I did.

With ear buds in, I revved up the treadmill. One of Addie's friends came in and joined me. We talked about how Addie was coming back to school tomorrow, how her reading group had made it through the fourth grade book and were ready to move up to the fifth grade one. One of Scott's friends stopped by. We talked about how we really need to get together.

The next time I saw him was in the hospital. He and his wife were one of the many people who came up to offer support, prayers, and whatever it is you offer in times like these. And then, he's in my kitchen, the morning Addie died. He's carrying two sackfuls of bread and everything you would possibly need to make a sandwich and doing whatever it is you do when you don't know what to do.

Music triggers something in each of us. Suddenly everything's crystal clear.

We really need to get together.

We're moving up to the fifth grade book.

She's going back to school tomorrow.

I'm on a treadmill, my daughter - my girl -  is dying. Only I don't know it yet.

Will we ever truly know the impact
of this loss?

My God, skip to the next song.


Music, melodies, memories. What song does it for you? And where does it take you?


  1. It's funny, I tend to end up at your blog on the exact day you post something new. It's happened a few times now. I check in from time to time when I think of you and your sweet family and whenever I end up here, it seems like it's meant to be. Praying that music brings you sweet memories and helps you feel closer to your girl. - Victoria

  2. Thanks for checking in and taking the time to comment. Sweet memories are the kind I love...