It’s Quiet Uptown


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.


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  1. Wow. I get it.

  2. Well I made it a minute and a half before I had to bail. We just passed the anniversary of my brothers passing, but with the major age difference, everyone knew I was his second mom and he was my baby! That song is spot on.
    I’m glad y’all got to enjoy the show while there – I haven’t heard one bad thing about it!

  3. Paula Crane Thomson

     /  May 18, 2016

    I used to worry about what I would say to others who’ve experienced a deep loss. Once you’ve had the kind of profound loss that creates a “before” and “after” division in what feels like your very soul, that is no longer a worry. You then know that, as you say, “there are no consoling words”. I now have an empathy for those who try to “say the right thing”. I, like you, am grateful for those who truly understand, but happy that there are not more. Thank you for sharing yourself and your family – the happy and the sad.

    • Danny Tanner

       /  May 22, 2016

      I think giving people grace who are trying to help is important. A good lesson that some of us learn.

  4. Deana

     /  May 18, 2016

    This one hit full on for me today. Thanks for sharing

  5. Deep loss is the unimaginable, Lin-Manuel is a brilliant man. Just listening to this song can move you to tears like no other. I lost my baby sister 11 years ago at the age of 34, 2 years of trying to fight the cancer. Definitely a consoling feeling when others understand, but as you said…please Lord stop the early deep loss! My son found the Hamilton CD last Thanksgiving, he has it on nonstop play…knows every word. If only Lin-Manuel could do the same for Science, Math, and other historical events…my son would be a genius.

  6. Linda Smith

     /  May 18, 2016

    Thalnk you Bruce, this was excellent. LOVE to All Linda

  7. April R. Poole

     /  May 19, 2016

    You gift for words is a blessing. This blog will be printed and placed in my memory book. You’ve expressed the feelings of profound loss perfectly. Thank you.

  8. brenmbb

     /  May 27, 2016

    Beautiful. I lost my 16 year old daughter 4 years ago. It’s still so hard. Thank you for sharing.

    • Danny Tanner

       /  May 29, 2016

      That is a very hard road. You’re on my mind.


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