I Know the Music By Heart, but Now My Heart Is Broken

By Mia Geiger
Special to The Washington Post
Monday, February 26, 2007

For a year, I didn't listen to music.

I worked at my computer, the click of the keystrokes the only sound in the room.

Music, for whatever reason, was the measure of my grief.

I didn't want to turn on my tape player and hear Neil Diamond, one of my favorites, singing "September Morn" or any of his other songs that cry out for someone to sing along.

I didn't want to play the CD of my favorite musical, "The Last Five Years," and hear the clever tunes about love lost and found, even as background music.

In the car, I would start the engine and my hand no longer automatically turned the radio knob. That habit had died on the day my mother died.

During the week, as I drove my 3-year-old daughter to school, I played her kiddie tapes, loud, lively songs about monkeys jumping from a tree or children playing in the snow, and her favorite, "La Cucaracha."

It was ludicrous for me to even think about shrieking along with her, "Hey, Mr. Alligator, can't get me!" But it wasn't fair to deprive Eliana of a few moments of fun. So I kept the tapes going.

When you're 3, you don't, mercifully, understand the finality of death.

For a week after my mother died, I didn't work. For a much longer time, I didn't socialize. I didn't watch the sitcoms I once enjoyed. I didn't go to the toddler birthday parties my daughter was invited to.

It was impossible for me to fathom ever singing again, ever dancing again, ever even smiling again.

During the next 15 months, I worked, took Eliana to school, made dinner. But I wasn't always there.


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