Just now I was talking to my sister and reminiscing about the first time I ever sang in public. I was five, the song was "I am Learning How to Spell" and it was a Relief Society meeting. My dad bribed me with Twinkies.
Since that super scary day I have sung many times. From the state Capitol to private homes, weddings, funerals, in all sorts of choirs but mostly solo, too many religious events to even begin to count, for groups in the thousands to a quiet lullaby for one of my sweet babies.
This is not to say that I would win any awards or singing contracts. Far from it. Faaaaar from it! In fact I have only the most basic knowledge of music in general. But my mom used to sing professionally so I figured that if she liked it, I must be good. It didn't ever occur to me that she was my mom and was obligated to say she loved my singing. And my dad made me feel like he was the proudest and happiest dad on earth whenever I sang.
My hardest but most special performance was at my dad's funeral. I didn't think I could get through it but my brother (also a singer) grabbed me by the shoulders and, for the first time I could remember, spoke roughly to me, telling me that I HAD to do it and dad was counting on me. I got up and sang one of his favorite songs, "I Hope You Dance", clearly and without shedding a single tear. I did it just for dad and I have no doubt he was proud and happy. As soon as I sat down though...
As I stated, I may never have been the best singer but I love, love, loved it. I thoroughly enjoyed it. My tape, CD, and now MP3 collection is largely made up of silly songs that I would sing at the top of my lungs. I probably looked and sounded totally weird!
Then I had the stroke. My vocal cords were one of the hardest hit parts of me. I couldn't swallow because they were paralyzed. Finally, and honestly, purely miraculously, they started working enough to allow me to swallow, though still slowly and with great difficulty at first.
However, my voice has never been the same. I sound a bit like a chain smoker mixed with a baby mixed with an old man. My distinct voice is easily recognizable and I rarely have to introduce myself over the phone more than once. The pharmacist and I are good pals. Once I was in a hospital room and my old therapist, who was there seeing another patient, heard me and came in to say hi. I have difficulty controlling the volume (my kids love that I can't really yell) and carrying a tune is out of the question.
Now I know that my body is very changed in many ways, but losing my voice is definitely one of the hardest effects. At times it makes me really sad or frustrated. Just yesterday my Jain heard "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" and was excited to tell me that it has the same words as the song I sing to her before bed. Not the same TUNE, just words. Ugg!
Friday I was listening to music and had it set to random. It played 2 Taylor Swift, 2 Lady Antebellum, 1 Suzanne Vega, 1 song from Tangled, and another Taylor Swift. What happened to my U2 or Mumford and Sons? I guess my phone wanted to rub it in or something. My (good) eye started to tear up a bit.
Just then Jain came in and invited me on a date for that night at Classic Fun Center.
It may not take away all of the future self pity but it reminded me what is really important. Not being able to carry a tune does not matter one little bit at Classic Fun Center. And it is a small price to pay for being able to stay here.
Besides, it's only temporary. In Heaven I plan on singing until others beg me to stop!