After Madeline died the celebrant we chose for her funeral came to our house. Surfaces had been dusted and polished by friends and family, but all of her toys still sat where we’d played them just days before. She asked us lots of questions about Madeline, and we spoke about her for hours.
Together, we constructed Madeline’s funeral. What we wanted her to say, who else we wanted to speak, what pictures and videos would be shared. At one point she offered up her funeral playlist. Of course, she didn’t call it that, but that’s basically what it was – songs you always hear at funerals. Amazing Grace, On Eagles’ Wings, Tears In Heaven. UGH, Tears In Heaven. As if that song wasn’t already a tear jerker. Mike and I politely declined her offer to handle the music and told her we’d put together something ourselves.
After the celebrant left, Mike and I slowly combed through our music collections. There were so many songs we associated with Maddie. Lots of them were silly and frivolous, like Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It), the song I’d taken a video of her dancing to just two months before she got sick. Then there were the dozens of songs I sang to her in the NICU. Each song had a different memory attached.
We finally picked out a handful of songs to play over her tribute video and during the service. I burned a CD with the songs in the exact order we wanted. I gave the funeral director the CD, and after the service the celebrant came up to us and said how wonderful the music was. I told her to keep the CD to share with other families. When we got home that night, I deleted every song off of my hard drive. I never wanted to hear any of them again. They were beautiful, meaningful songs, but they were ruined.
In the two years, three months and four days since her funeral, I’ve managed to avoid hearing any of the songs. One of them is in a movie, so I just fast forward through that part. The others aren’t the typical songs you’d hear on the radio.
Yesterday while I was sitting in a store waiting for my turn to be helped, I heard the faint chords of a song I hadn’t heard since April 14th, 2009. The tears were falling before the musician started singing. I was transported back to the front pew of the church. My stomach churned and my knees felt weak. I felt everyone’s eyes on me.
And then my name was called.
The store employee didn’t know what to do. I managed to choke out some words and pointed to what I needed, then I sank back down while he hustled away. I composed myself, and left a few minutes later.
There’s a commercial on rotation here with the song You Are My Sunshine playing over it. I sang it to Maddie many times in an effort to get her to sleep, just one of those songs that I sang without thinking about the words. Now, all I can hear is the second verse:
The other night dear, as I lay sleeping I dreamed I held you in my arms
When I awoke, dear, I was mistaken, so I hung my head and I cried.
I hate that song now.