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.
Then one day, I thought, "There is no music in my life."
I turned on the car radio as I drove to the grocery store. It felt strange, but I kept it on. On the way home, I listened some more.
A few days later I read about a musical on Broadway. The review said the performance leaves you feeling warm and fuzzy. "The Pajama Game" was a little old-fashioned, the critic said, but when you left the theater you felt rejuvenated.
All of a sudden, I wanted to see this show.
"You want to go to a play?" my stunned husband asked.
Yes, I realized. I want to see a play. I want to listen to music.
It is a strange feeling, one I am slowly accepting. The tug of holding on to the grief, yet needing to feel alive again.
Most days now, I turn on the car radio. After that first time, the old habit returned -- maybe a little too quickly, I don't know.
The other day Carly Simon's "You're So Vain" came on and I listened in awe of the strength of her voice and her passion. Heaven knows, if there's a song to sing along with while you're driving, this is it. But still, I couldn't.
One day a song will come on the radio and I will sing along, maybe not even conscious that I'm doing it. A part of me is not looking forward to that day, because the day I can sing along will be the day that my mother leaves me just a little more.
Strangely, my mother rarely listened to music. She didn't have a collection of tapes or CDs. She didn't even own a radio. I don't think she ever went to a concert. She did like Tom Jones, though.
For a certain part of my life, I didn't listen to music, didn't sing, didn't dance. Now I do. It doesn't mean my heart isn't broken. It doesn't mean I've forgotten.
It means I want to hear music again.