Monday, November 9, 2009
Much of the music that spoke to me right after Phil's death was important because the lyrics articulated feelings I was incapable of expressing. Even now, after writing countless words about my journey through the loss of my husband, there are times when nothing communicates my inner turmoil like the phrases penned by someone else.
When I first heard today's song, Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield, tears ran down my face while I drove along the freeway. If you haven't heard this song before you may be surprised by my tears, or not since most of you are all too familiar with random, unexplained tears! My emotional response surprised me because this isn't a typical tear jerker song. The tempo is upbeat, the message is positive, and the concept is meant to inspire. Why cry? Because the first time I listened to these lyrics I was struck by the idea that I was in charge of writing the story of my life, and that thought terrified me.
When I was married to Phil my life story was already outlined. There were many chapters yet to be lived, but the main characters were in place. I knew the plot would likely twist and turn, but the death of the story's hero was not on my story board.
My grief chapters were oddly easy to compose. I knew what the heroine was supposed to do. Shock, terror, despair, girl overcoming daily challenges...these came naturally because I FELT them. Grief became the villainous antagonist, and I nobly tried to slay the beast. This story line made sense to me.
The jaunty lyrics of Unwritten reminded me that only the early chapters of my life have been recorded...now what? The main characters were dead or irrevocably altered, the plot line was no longer laid out, and every attempt to kill the antagonist was met with defeat. How could I write a happy ending when I could not imagine one? My ability to dream up the demise of new supplemental characters was highly developed, but the task of beginning a new chapter caused immediate writer's block.
Slowly I have realized that the message of this song is not so much, "What is next?" as it is "Open your heart." I spent the first several years of my widowhood with my arms wrapped protectively around my body, shielding myself from the possibility of experiencing more pain. I teetered every day on the edge of my pain threshold. The slightest injury to my damaged heart could have easily thrown me over the emotional cliff of despair, and I had no confidence in my ability to survive the drop. As time has passed my protective grip has loosened, and my confidence has increased. Welcoming new people into my life has become easier. The nagging fear that someone I love is on the brink of extinction doesn't surface as often. My ability to be open to possibility has increased with every risk taken, and each difficult lesson learned. Writing my own story has becoming an almost appealing project.
One line of Natasha's song still gets me every time..."Reaching for something in the distance, so close you can almost taste it..." Because sometimes I feel that real contentment--the kind that settles deep in your bones--is so close I can almost taste it. Writing my happy ending will require all the couage I can muster.
Here is the link....sorry there was no embedded image available...
Posted by Michele Neff Hernandez at 5:00 AM