When in New York, we were fortunate enough to score tickets to the Broadway musical Hamilton. I can’t really put into words how moving this experience was for the girls and for me – on a number of levels.
The story, the dancing, the historical lessons and the music were incredible to say the least. One song particularly struck me. It’s about grief. It’s called It’s Quiet Uptown.
I’m assuming the writer, Lin-Manuel Miranda, has experienced significant loss. I find it difficult to believe that someone who has not could possibly describe the hole this sort of suffering leaves.
The song starts:
There are moments that the words don’t reach
There is suffering too terrible to name
You hold your child as tight as you can
And push away the unimaginable
The moments when you’re in so deep
It feels easier to just swim down
I did not lose a child, but in my grief there were moments that the words didn’t reach. There weren’t adjective that could describe the pain. It was so deep. So different from anything I’d ever experienced. Unique. No one could provide consoling words, because there simply weren’t any.
The Hamiltons move uptown
And learn to live with the unimaginable
It isn’t about getting over a loss. It is about learning to live with it. Figuring out what place the one who has gone will now play in your life. That may sound absurd, I mean they’re dead. And yet, there is a role for them. Memories. Lessons learned. Pieces of you that grew from them. Sort of a spiritual connection that doesn’t just disappear because of physical separation.
I would guess that those who have lost parents feel that connection. They see their mother or father in themselves. I have so many traits of my grandfather. As I age, they become even more apparent. His legacy lives on.
Miranda describes the changes we encounter in ourselves:
I spend hours in the garden
I walk alone to the store
And it’s quiet uptown
I never liked the quiet before
I take the children to church on Sunday
A sign of the cross at the door
And I pray
That never used to happen before
Grief makes you ponder things that you haven’t considered before. It makes you question. It brings about doubts and fears. You pray in ways that you never have before. Or perhaps, for some, you stop altogether.
If you see him in the street, walking by
Himself, talking to himself, have pity
The conversations I’ve had – with me. The physical changes. Aging. Maturing. A loss of innocence.
His hair has gone grey. He passes every day.
They say he walks the length of the city.
The guilt you find for living.
If I could spare his life
If I could trade his life for mine
The older I get, the more people I meet who fully understand loss. I’m thankful there are others. I’m glad there aren’t more.