Posted by: Louise | July 8, 2010

The sound of silence

The Giraffe Princess didn’t have a song. Everything was new when she was born and for whatever reason neither I nor we associated her with one song in particular. She remedied this a few years ago after realising that both her brothers had songs. With considered determination she listened to a range of music before announcing she had found her song – ‘Your Song’ by Ewan McGregor from Moulin Rouge – impressive choice for a six year old.

Astro Boy’s song became his by happenstance. Norah Jones ‘Don’t Know Why’ came on the radio during a particularly strong contraction as I lay hooked up to the monitors in the hospital admissions room. He isn’t overly enamoured with the choice, but he’s stuck with it.

The Little Boy Racer was a bit luckier. I had decided to have a home birth with him. Organising a birthing pool, birthing ball, tens machine, anything birthing related was a step too far into this unknown home birth territory, but both K and I dedicated long hours to choosing the perfect labouring soundtrack (this we knew we could do). LBR arrived into this world – or perhaps more accurately, I tuned back into the soundtrack after his very hasty arrival – just as the Carpenters began singing ‘Close to You’. Couldn’t be more fitting really.

And little Laura. Her song was always Neil Diamond’s ‘Pretty Amazing Grace’. My vanity compells me to stress that this is pretty much the only Neil Diamond song I like. From the moment I found out I was pregnant this was her song. She was my pretty amazing Grace in so many ways, the wonder of her after a very challenging year in our lives, filling me up inside. I listened to it over and over and over and over again. At different times different words stood out. The song carried me along through rejoicing and anxiety and tears.

But Laura died. Her growing life could not captivate and enthrall us anymore. Yet she was everywhere. She had been here when music played in our lives. She had been here when K went to choir. She had been here when that Surf ad was on tv, when Slum Dog Millionaire was in the cinema and the soundtrack was a constant backing track to our lives. Now these songs held a part of her. And so, instead of her gurgles or night feeds or beautiful dark blue baby eyes captivating us, a growing soundtrack has.

Bizet’s ‘Pearl Fishers’ came on the radio one week to the minute after she was born. It was a perfect song, the pearl fishers singing of the beautiful spirit who had transfixed them in the temple. Luka Bloom’s cd lives in the car and, listening to it after Laura died, his song ‘I believe in you’ offered some solace to pain the end of Laura’s all-too-brief life was inflicting. There was something in it about everything having its own path that comforted. Laura’s life was Laura’s life, her path, in all its brevity. Our pain was and is partly to do with the expectation that her life would follow a similar path to the rest of us – three score years and ten-ish. We would be gone leaving Laura and her sister and brothers to mourn our loss. That is the way, isn’t it?

Laura’s uncle dedicated The Lake to her in a gig he performed at shortly after she died. Another uncle wrote ‘Angel Song’ for her. Yet another uncle and aunt composed and recorded ‘Golden Slumbers’ for her. Her godmother came crying into the house one day – I’ve found a song for her – clutching the Miley Cyrus dvd she had been watching with her daughter and we sat down together and watched Miley sing ‘Butterfly Fly Away’.

There are songs that were in the charts when Laura was with us – songs we shared with her in the humdrum of life, before life became so much more than humdrum. Laura isn’t here so we try to capture her presence with music. We are filling out the void in our lives with songs. Laura’s space will always be here in this world and this soundtrack takes a tiny bit of the edge of its echoing silence.

The night after Laura was born I sat in my hospital bed with her in my arms. I knew she would be taken from me in the morning. These were our last few hours together, mother and daughter. I had my i-pod and together we listened to each of her sister and brother’s songs, and I played the Beach Boys ‘God Only Knows’ for her daddy – just so she knew our soundtrack.

Sing along with us, Sweetheart, when singing fills our lives again……..


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