I Played a Song and Cried

In the present, the tears flowed.

A woman with long brown hair sitting on a flight of stairs, with her head in her hands
Image created via Midjourney

Last week was my grandpa's birthday. He died in 2011 at the age of 91.

I don't remember the birthdays of all of my grandparents, but my grandpa was born on December 7th, a day that would later become known as Pearl Harbor Day, when he was 22. So every year, when I inevitably hear a news person make a reference to Pearl Harbor Day, I think, "Oh yeah. It's my grandpa's birthday."

Pearl Harbor makes me immediately think of the 2001 movie by the same name. I only saw it once and it wasn't that great. But my high school show choir sang the hit song from the movie the following year, "There You'll Be" by Faith Hill.

Last Thursday, on Pearl Harbor Day and my grandpa's birthday, I played "There You'll Be" from the Alexa device in my kitchen. And immediately started crying.

Somehow, I'd forgotten my close association between "There You'll Be" and Nelle and Iris.

It was back in 2016. I was part of an online writing group for grieving people. The prompt for the day was "What love song would you send to yourself?" Somehow, I accidentally stumbled on that song, buried in the recesses of my teenage mind.

It was exactly the right song for my girls. And everywhere I am, there you'll be.

In the present, the tears flowed. It's my season of grief, after all. I'm hit constantly between September (when Nelle died) and February (when Iris died). So many moments take me back to memories of past holidays, past anguish, past feelings of isolation. Watching people around me celebrate when all I could do was think about the babies I lost.

My grandma lived another 9 years after my grandpa. She died in December 2020, eight days after his birthday. Add that to my season of grief.

I couldn't even try to hide the tears. I had to listen to the song, and wipe them away at the end.

My 6-year-old, my rainbow baby, spotted me. "Why is your face like that?" she asked, gesturing to my tears.

All I could tell her was that I'd heard a song that made me sad, and it's ok to be sad.

She still doesn't really understand that she's the baby who came "after." She knows that she has some sisters who died. But she hasn't made the connection to her own role as our rainbow, a baby born after loss.

Even though she knows that we lost two babies, it doesn't affect her in the same way, at least not now. She didn't live through it. Her brothers did. I had to tell them – first that Nelle died, and then that Iris died. They've grown up remembering, including our tributes around the house and events we've attended with other members of the loss community.

But for some reason, my rainbow feels "too young" to know more than she does. She doesn't have to know, the way her brothers had to know. I had to tell them that we weren't having a baby anymore. But she doesn't have to know how much pain that brought to our family.

She will. We don't hide it. I didn't hide my tears. But I also don't rush to envelop her with my grief.

Thanksgiving Songs
What love song would I send myself?
You can support my work as a writer by buying me a coffee.