I like writing with background music on my laptop. I made a “Chillout” play list on YouTube Music and I write this blog or my memoir with those songs playing.
Today, another patient picked up on my song and seemed to really brighten up when he asked. “Hal” seemed about my Dad’s age, so I subtly changed my play list over to the “songs to remember Dad by” and Hal tapped his foot and nodded his head.
“I love these songs!” He said happily.
“Do you have ‘sad songs’ by Elton John?” Hal asked hopefully. I remember that Dad loved it, so within seconds it was playing from my laptop and “Hal”, an elderly guy “James” and I listened to it and all sang along. James even danced, bless him.
The 3 of us went to our first group therapy session which funnily enough was “music therapy”. The Facilitator “Julie” asked us each to name a song that made us happy. Hal told her we’d just been listening to ‘sad songs’ (which is ironically is a pretty upbeat song) by Elton…so Julie brought up YouTube on the big smart-screen and the song started again.
It was so strange because this time, it hurt to hear the song.
My mind brought up an image of Dad. A life-size, flickering, see-through projection of Dad danced around us in the group therapy room. Tears sprang to my eyes as I watched Dad flawlessly pull off his favourite Mick Jagger–esk moves – arms bent like wings and his legs taking steps back and forth while Dad “hmm”d to the tune, his concentration purely on his dancing so that I couldn’t catch his eye.
It was bitter-sweet to watch Dad’s happy hologram dancing this morning – a sight I’d seen a thousand times in my childhood…but not to be able to catch his eye or call out “Look at you go, Dad – you’ve still got it, old chap!” and have Dad beam a pleased smile in response.
The song ended and the facilitator asked us to take turns around the group saying how we felt before the song and how it had affected our “mood” and possibly altered our “emotional state” after the song.
Almost everyone admitted to feeling “sad”, “tired”, “over it” beforehand and feeling “uplifted” “a little better, actually” “yeah, my mood’s lifted” after hearing the song.
Oh. My turn.
“How were you feeling before?”
Tired, but pretty ok. Settled.
Internally: Well…now I feel like I’m falling in a vast void of pain and grief that just won’t end. I miss my Dad. I would give anything to see him again. Anything. My heart has shattered into millions of tiny shards because watching Dad dance was so much a part of my life that it’s profoundly painful to know I will never see my Dad dance again. Thanks for asking.
“Yeah, better” I lied, nodding to physically hold up my lie while swallowing past the lump in my throat.
I miss my Dad.