Monday, June 30, 2014

When the Voice Becomes an Echo

I can't hear her voice anymore.

When my grandma died, I replayed her saying my name over and over again as if hearing her one more time would lessen the pain, would bring her back. Maybe I just didn't want to forget.

But now, 14 years later, it's silent. I see her in pictures but the voice is gone. Her house is still so real to me, even down to the smells. But the voice is gone and I feel somehow removed from even knowing her by not being able to hear her.

A person's particular sound is an interesting thing. My twins are identical, but their voices betray their identity. We can pick up on emotions or lack thereof by the subtle changes of a voice. It's the telltale sign that a boy is becoming a man when his voice changes.

Oh, how we take the sound of someone's voice for granted.

Right now, a man who, over the last decade, I have learned to love, admire, and appreciate is dying. Cancer is taking his life. Minute by minute he's growing weaker and is only a shell of the man he was even six months ago. His words are silent as he is pumped with morphine for nothing more than comfort from the rages of the disease.  When I kissed his head yesterday, I knew I would never again hear him utter my name. I will never again hear him yell at the TV when his beloved Yankees are losing. I will never again hear him tell my children how much Papa Jesse loves them.

So may memories and yet I can only retain snippets of his voice. The way he would say, "Hey Sweetie," when I'd walk in the door. Or the way he'd call his grown son "honey," which I always found amusing, but so Jesse. I hear him calling out to his granddaughter (who happens to be a 110 pound chocolate lab). I smile I hear him reminding me again and again to call and let them know I've gotten home safely. I can hear him pray to a God who will soon welcome him through the gates of Heaven. Leaving us here, wounded, broken and ever vocal in our weeping.

Though I knew this time would come eventually, it's come too soon. I'm trying to grasp the reality of it all and though he was not my father, I him as one. I'm desperately trying to recall conversations so I can bury his sweet voice in my brain only to retrieve it when I'm lonely for him. Which will be often.

As I sit in the quiet of the day, I can hear him. I want to hear him. I don't want to let him go. I don't want his voice to fade into nothingness. So while I can, I remember. I hear. I smile and I mourn. I pray the voice, his voice, will always ring loud in my ears.

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