Do you realize that of all the music written in the world, most are love songs? For the past 29 years, since early February 1981, with the exception of a certain Bob Dylan song that takes me back to 1970, every love song I have heard has reminded me of only one person in the world. Even now, when I hear a love song, my heart goes to Bill. That has made music a pretty tender space in these early grieving days. And yet my senses crave the comfort of music -- the energy of it that fills the tired and lonely spaces in my spirit and gives me wings to fly above the hurts.
I've been sticking with New Age instrumentals, but it is hard to hum along with most of that stuff. And speaking of humming, I really haven't been able to do that anyway. I was never a great singer, but I COULD at least carry a tune. Right now I can't even hold a note! My voice quavers like a 90 year old. For most of July and a good bit of August, it wasn't just singing I had problems with. I avoided conversations that lasted more than a few minutes, especially on the phone and especially with Bill's close relatives. My voice would go weak and quivery and then disappear altogether -- it still does once in a while, but I seem to be regaining some control over it. Maybe by Christmas I can sing Jingle Bells, eh? That is, if the tune doesn't make me bawl like a baby.
Every couple has their own special tunes that define times and events in their relationship. For me and Bill, Stevie Wonder's "I Just Called to Say I Love You" was always about the year we spent separated while I was stationed in Korea. International phone calls weren't as easy in 1985, and were very expensive; but we had been married less than two years when I was sent over, and calling to say "I love you!" was one indulgence we allowed ourselves. Years later (1999), when I was on vacation on a little Greek island in the Aegean (and tipsy on Ouzo), I again called Bill just to say "I love you," and it was just as sweet as I remembered it (and just as expensive). Now I can't call. It doesn't matter how good my calling plan is or how much Ouzo I drink; it just isn't good enough.
And so I have allowed myself to listen to love songs the past couple of days. I was surprised to find that it didn't affect me the same way that some other, less loaded things have. After all, if picking up a can of creamed corn in the grocery store can get the waterworks started, I figured love songs were some really dangerous territory. Not only does it not hurt, but in a strange way, it is as if the music is a way for us to keep those telephone lines open.