Music Was the Bridge that Allowed Him to Be Seen.

After I lost my son, it seems that my thoughts often centered around what I did right and what I would give anything in the world to do different.  I have discovered over the last two years that a great deal of pain lies in the “should have’s” so I avoid them as much as possible.  Today I share with you an experience, one of my memories of something I did right.  How grateful I am that I trusted my intuition and accepted the gift handed to me. Neither James nor I could have possibly known how desperately needed these memories with him would be.

James loved music. James and I did not share a taste in music, quite the opposite in fact.

Heavy metal frayed my nerves and left me feeling anxious, scattered, and depleted. I remember James imploring me many times to “just listen to the words mom!” So, I did.  It is now one of the things that I am most grateful for. Many more memory of my son.

I believed at the time, that if James found connection in what I (at the time) believed to be a screaming defamation of all that music was supposed to be, there might be something in it that I was missing.

You know what? I was right..

The lyrics that he so wanted me to hear were haunting, deep, and filled with pain. They spoke to his struggle and he desperately needed me to validate and acknowledge his music because in doing so, I acknowledged and validated him. 

Music was the bridge that allowed him to be seen.

As I listened to the raging chaos, I remember being aware that James was watching me closely. I knew that my every expression and gesture was noted and analyzed as either acceptance or rejection of him.

Knowing this, I dug deep to find something positive to give back to him. I am a terrible liar and James was a master lie detector.

The most surprising thing of all was that no matter how “rancid” I might have found the song, I always found something of value, something to appreciate and even at times, something beautiful.  There might have been a cord that suddenly became gentle, or the lyrics, deep and meaningful. Perhaps a drummer that, even from my limited knowledge of drums, was clearly talented.

There was always something. 

After listening, I complimented the song, pointed out what I liked about it and was rewarded by James’ relief. It was personal to him. When you appreciate something that is important to your child, you validate and appreciate them.  

I would encourage every parent that has a teen to be willing to connect to something that they are connected to. Join them in their world. Leave your judgement behind. What a gift to be invited in, what an honor to learn from them and see the world through their eyes.

I listen to Sam Smith, Nora Jones, and Sarah McLaughlin.  Anthrax and Slip Knot are not my thing, but I am grateful that I have a better understanding of them. I would have many less memories of my son without them. I can still feel his relief. I knew that he felt less alone in his pain when I was willing to accept what he saw as an expression of himself.  I felt his walls come down, he trusted me to see him, to be vulnerable. He let me in.

There is not and never will be a more beautiful place in this world.