When my son Jim was ten, he returned from school looking rather down trodden. I asked him what had happened. He looked up at me with his bright, green eyes and said, “my teacher told me not to sing anymore Mum, she said I had a terrible voice”. That teacher had entered a thought into Jim’s head that he had never considered. He had always had a love of singing and with a big, booming and a bit gravely, sound we always said that he had a Kenny Rogers voice. So, he was proud and he sang all the more! We loved his voice and his enthusiasm. It filled our lives. Until early one morning when he was taken as the result of a bicycle accident that claimed his lovely, eighteen year old body.
From that day to this, nineteen years later, I have lived a journey that I never wanted to travel but I vowed early on that if I have to walk these many miles, Jim will be proud of me when I finally hold him again. I have cried many rivers of tears and although time heals a bit, the need to keep my soul open and able to feel joy again, has pulled me towards finding the means to heal.
It has been my harp that has helped me find peaceful moments again. Although I had no previous musical training, the harp strings tugged me towards them. At the age of forty-eight, I found myself sitting in my first harp lesson. Since those early days, ten years ago now, I have found a marvelous harp teacher who always seems to meet each of her students where they are. She intuitively knows how to stretch and encourage. Sharlene Wallace, in many ways has given me back my belief in myself and has enabled me to play an instrument that carries my tears away as the music flows.
I had the opportunity to play some Christmas music to my Dad just a few months before his death and I will never forget the thumb’s up sign that he gave me from his bed and the joy in his eyes.
I still have days when the grief moves in again and my heart just feels like it will burst with missing of Jim and all that we wish he could be here for now. Jim would have loved his role as an uncle to Will and Abby. My little grandson talks easily of his Uncle Jim, although he as yet has not asked when this loved Uncle will appear.
On the sad days I always know that I will sit down at some point, pull my harp against my chest and play the notes that will carry my hurt away…
It always succeeds.
Editor’s Note: Quite coincidentally, Sharlene Wallace is a Room 217 musician. You can hear the angelic backdrop she provides with the gentle plucks of her Celtic harp on the Room 217 Celtic Whisperings CD.