We have just finished the 121st and final episode of Glee. And before you roll your eyes and dismiss what I have to say, read a little bit more.
This was more than a TV show. This was 121 hours of shared entertainment with my girls. This was way up and way down as we’ve walked this really, really hard road of our shared existence, of our Hager Girl Tribe. This was lessons about how we love everyone, welcome to all, on TV before I even knew it existed. This was losing Finn (Cory Monteith) after he’d already died and the way that seeing his face again in future episodes made us all gasp and say, that was him! Did you see him? That was Finn!
This was learning that the bravest thing anyone can do in this world is sing. In the face of what we have done and still do to each other, to bring music to those moments is breathtaking.
And I’m dusting off my old machine. I remember a typewriter my grandma used to have, lifting the vinyl cover off in the back bedroom with the brass bed and sitting down, rolling a sheet of scrap paper into the machine and attempting to write, mostly just my name over and over again. Alicia. Alicia. Alicia.
Most days are still that way, its as though the magic is gone, as though my voice has changed and I’m not quite sure what do with it anymore.
I saw my grandma not too long ago, and she still didn’t know who I was. She didn’t know that I sleep on a mattress cradled by her bed, that I show my girls my cousin Kelly’s tooth mark from that time she fell. She didn’t know that the woman with me was my sister, that the kids who, she said (with a laugh), were horsing around, were her great grand children.
But she sang.
She sang a nursery song about ten pretty girls, and one about asking a playmate to come out and play. She nodded along as my sister floored me and sang I come to the garden alone. She looked at us hopefully. She told us how sorry she would be for us to go.
When you visit her next, sing to her, sing with her. See what pieces of her you can bring back. I saw a familiar look in her eye, a familiar smile, I saw pieces of her and I knew that somewhere deep down this capable woman in her housecoats and sensible shoes was still there.
Music brings glorious moments of clarity – ah ha times, where what we’d been looking for occurs to us, where emotions that were so far down we didn’t even know we had them, shake themselves loose from the silt and the driftwood and come floating upward vulnerable and twinkling in the light.
Music helps us to cope, to deal, speaks the emotions that we cannot name, the sorrow that we cannot put to words.
It is such a powerful weapon.
I love to inject it into my children. I love to sing in the kitchen, because the acoustics are good there, sometimes loud and rough, sometimes soft and sweet, always with a message.
Glee brought me back to old dreams.
We talked about those dreams, the ones that we’d buried in the woods a long time ago. We talked about how we thought we were alone, how only our things (ourselves) were in those graves. We talked about how the dying light casts shadows on the fur trees, how the whole wood is littered with decorated graves. Sequins and flowers, glitter and footballs, baby booties and wedding rings. We are not alone.
The dirt on one of my old graves shifted some, it trickled down, disturbed from within. That girl who was not afraid to sing in front of anyone, her eyelids fluttered. That girl who dreamed of living a BIG LIFE, she gasped for breath and LIVED.
It isn’t just a campy tv show, it is a reminder that dreams can be lived. It is a reminder that relationships can end while love does not, even when hurt and pain still exist. But the miracle lives on, we see the pain and we still choose to sing, and realize as the voices join ours that we are singing the same songs.
We learned that Glee (singing) is about opening yourself to joy.
We learned that love is love (is love is love).
We learned that being who we are is what is most important.
We learned that we can really be who we dream we are.
The sky is hot tonight, the air smells like fish and like wonder and like warning, because its going to rain. The whole world (or at least the quivering Rose of Sharon and luminescent green of the grass in my yard) seems to be waiting; holding a collective breath, ready to begin the song on a perfect middle C.
The lake is still and reflects back the moody clouds. I don’t think I’ll get to see the shooting stars of the Perseid shower, the clouds will be in the way, as they so often have this summer, when I have strained to see anything outside of my own sorrow.
The difference now is that I know the stars are there, flaming brightly through the night, even if I can’t see them. I believe that now I am one of them, all of these pieces of me falling through the night to land in a pond in a starlit wood, where a girl who looks rather like me will sieve them out and paste them together again.
Hope will never be silent.
And now I have hope. And I have music. And I have dreams of the best versions of myself. Of how to be that woman for my children, not the tired and defeated mother, but the passionate and crazy mother – I feel like just maybe I can be her more often. Like a return to myself, only more.
I love you.
I hope you get to see the sun set. I hope you turn on the radio or find your favorite song. I hope you sing for all you’re worth and know how important your voice is. I was not made for silence, but I will do my best to harmonize with you.
I’ve made it. I don’t know to what. But I feel like I am arriving at an oasis. I feel like I might be ok.
I’ll sit a spell, pitch my tent and help out with dinner and child minding. I’m no good at fire building (preferring to throw pizza boxes on does not, in fact, help). But when the last light fades, when we look at each other around this blazing light in the center of our circle and we choose to see the fatigue and the pain, the sadness and the dried up tears… maybe someone will start to sing. And if I know the words I’ll sing along.
And we will all be one again. And we will be ok, because that girl who looks like me is guarding the lake tonight, leaning against a tree in the moonlight on a bed of pine needles. She has her metal sieve and she is scooping out and sorting the pieces as they rain down from the night sky, memories and bright snippets of sound.
She will sort us, will put us back together. Her tears and the dirt on her hands will make the paste, we will be whole again. In probably the most unlikely of ways. And the pieces that she doesn’t catch, the ones that sink to the bottom, maybe we were supposed to let those go.
I am left with an image my sister painted, as only she can, in a fast car surrounded by the music of Moulin Rouge, the soaring tenor, the endless love, even in the face of death. She told me how she’d taken a blanket and laid in the yard to watch shooting stars. How the air was soft and the night was still and bats swooped over her.
I am in the yard with her, wrapped in my blanket, feeling the soft fuzz of wings and hearing the secret language of night creatures as I watch stars fall from the sky.
I love you still.