Rain Songs by Laura Munson
(as seen on the Huffington Post: click here)
I used to sing. On purpose. In choirs and in singing groups…starting from the time I was a little girl, up until a few years ago when the band I was in broke up.
I used to sing to my kids every night—lie in bed with them and sing old folk tunes. My daughter was born with perfect pitch and an ear for harmony so before she was old enough to form complex sentences, she’d hum along a third higher than my note. My son didn’t like my songs though. He said they gave him “the fire feeling” which I finally figured out was a severe reaction to the sadness so abundant in folk tunes. He doesn’t like sadness. He’ll never be a writer. Not so sure about my daughter, who is more interested in the way the heart lifts and falls.
She says that I don’t sing anymore. She says that the only time I sing is when I’m angry with her. “How so?” I ask. She confesses to playing a little trick on me. When I start getting aggravated, she starts singing, and apparently, I break into song too and the argument is diffused. She’s brilliant. But she shouldn’t have told me. Because I’d like to believe that there’s still a part of me that bursts into song without meaning to from time to time. And now I’ll notice and I’ll stop.
Singing hurts for some reason.
Probably because all the people I used to sing with, are gone now. Starting with my grandmother who wanted to be an opera singer but was sexually harassed by her professor and returned home to her high school sweetheart. She’d put me to bed and pat my back and sing Lullabye in a way too good for most childhood bedtimes. I loved that I got to be that special.
And my father, in church and in our own private variety shows in the living room—The bells are ringing for me and my gal—a song and dance duo with an audience of one or two but we didn’t care. We’d still get butterflies beforehand.
My years of choirs—all so far from my small Montana town—especially the Trinity Church choir in Boston. That was pure medicine, those years singing alto in that choir. One time my dear friend, the then choir master, took us into the church and played the organ for me while I lay on my back on the altar in the dark, eight months pregnant, knowing my baby was getting those pipe songs deep in its waters. The years of sitting on the front porch singing in four part harmony with my girl band and playing guitar, gone too. Those sorts of chapters in a person’s life seem only to last so long. The first thing to go, like the dentist bill is the last to be paid. It’s a shame. To lose a thing like singing. Reckless, even.
I went on a road trip recently. I drove hundreds of miles over mountain passes thick with flaxen larch trees to remind myself how my small Montana town is stitched to the ocean. (Click here to read more)