Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Different Song, Please

I was at choir rehearsal last night. We came to the song I never get to sing. It never fails. We get halfway through and come to that line about “the will to go on, go on.” And my breath stops, it clenches, I choke it all back. And I listen to the words assault me.

Late at night, I hear it singing,

Then again when I wake at dawn.

And it fills me up with hope and good will,

The will to go on, go on…

There is a river in Judea that I heard of long ago

And it’s a singing, ringing river that my soul cries out

To know.

Three of us who sing together in the second sopranos, we’re all mothers of Asperger children. I mean, what are the odds, right? We also drive to choir together. Sometimes we talk about it, joke a little, congratulate each other on small gains. For once, we don’t need to explain, to apologize.

I spent the afternoon today with a woman who called me for help about her son. Like I’m an expert. I listened to her, the long list of her programs and efforts and specialists, admiring her control over her facial muscles and voice as she talked about her fears and the fruitlessness of her efforts. And about her son’s bewilderment at the constant daily failure of everything he tries, the constant constant constant daily failure of his everything. About where it was all going.

Like I knew.

When I got home, I sat outside on the back deck staring at the snow till it grew dark.

I thought about us, about the shipwrecks of our careers and dreams, and the heavy heavy weight of our children. No matter how hard we try. What lies ahead?

I don’t have any answers. I never do. I just have questions.

So much of life is just carrying on.


At 1:59 PM, Blogger Rich in Brooklyn said...

I don't really know what to say in response to this post, but it doesn't seem right to pass over it in silence.

You and the other parents in your group have indeed been given a heavy burden, as have your children. I admire you for your courage and persistence.

Rich Accetta-Evans
Brooklyn Quaker

At 11:57 AM, Blogger Contemplative Scholar said...

I was very moved by this post for three reasons. First of all, I'm not in a choir because what happens to you with that song happens to me so often too -- when words and music come together in certain ways, how can I keep from crying? (So I play instruments instead!)

Also, one of my students at the college where I teach has Aspergers, and I have been incredibly moved by her journey. I feel like I have learned to perceive the world in new ways. Her transition to college was very difficult, and I sensed that she needed to be given a chance to succeed, and so I advocated for her when even her parents were ready to pull her out of college. She has now settled in well and is doing much better. I feel blessed to have had the chance to share this part of her journey with her. I and others have learned so much from her.

And, third, your thoughts at the end of your posting are so poetic and so haunting: "the shipwrecks of our careers and dreams, and the heavy heavy weight of our children." Yes. "So much of life is just carrying on." Yes too. And often we do not realize the ways that "just carrying on" expresses a courage that is profoundly inspiring to others.

Thank you so much for this beautiful post.


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