Deprecated: Hook custom_css_loaded is deprecated since version jetpack-13.5! Use WordPress Custom CSS instead. Jetpack no longer supports Custom CSS. Read the documentation to learn how to apply custom styles to your site: in /wordpress/wp-includes/functions.php on line 6078 A Song I Can’t Sing Right Now | Kathy Nickerson

There are some songs I can’t sing right now. You probably understand. I thought it would be the hymns at my mother’s funeral. When the time came to sing with my siblings and our children and our children’s children, I thought I would ugly cry. I didn’t expect to get out a single verse of, “It Is Well With My Soul.” But I did. I even managed to sing, “Praise God from Whom all Blessings Flow” at her graveside. Just as we had done at her dinner table every Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter for decades.

Well done, me. But I knew I would dissolve during the first worship service at church after her funeral. A good worship service can bring me to tears on the best of days. Nope. I had a few tears, but I never had to stop singing. I just felt grateful to have belonged to her. Grateful her suffering was over. Grateful she had gone home to Jesus and our dad and her parents and the great cloud of witnesses the Bible mentions.

I was doing so well. Then, on Monday, I went upstairs to rock a grandson at nap time. It is one of the great privileges of this season in our lives. Now and then, I get to rock a grandchild. I have a song list in my mind, and I always choose two or three easy ones. We started with, “Oh, How I Love Jesus.” We got through just fine, and I felt both of us relax into that perfectly peaceful weight of a sleepy child.

Without thinking, I switched to the first verse of, “Playmate, come out and play with me.” Suddenly, I was four years old on my mother’s lap in a rocking chair I can’t even picture. But I can see the flowered linoleum. I feel the smooth fabric of the checked gingham dress she wears in my memory. And I smell the white forsythia blooms waving outside the window. I can hear her singing the words of this childhood song, and I feel it. The sobbing-out-loud ugly cry of grief hangs over my shoulder.

Such an outburst did not seem like the best way to send a grandson off for his nap. So, I bit my lip, took a breath, and hummed.

I won’t be singing “Playmate” for a while. Unless I sing it to myself in the car where I can have a good cry without bothering anyone. I don’t mind crying in public or in front of friends and family. But I don’t want to traumatize a little kid, either.

Unfortunately, grief isn’t predictable. Today it was a song at nap time. Tomorrow it might be ice cream at the grocery store. Grief just pops up and grabs us when we least expect it. And the best we can do is roll with it. I know from experience it won’t last forever. I’m not sure the pain ever heals completely this side of Heaven, but I know it changes, becomes more bearable. Eventually the good memories and gratitude are stronger than the ache of loss.

And in the meantime, we sing the songs we can.