I was just casually looking for art supplies at the local craft store. Minding my own business and not thinking about grief. Not even thinking about Jon in that moment. It’s okay to say that, right? Just enjoying a bit of reprieve with some carefree shopping.
As I was comparing the different hues of red paint, I began to notice a song playing over the speakers. There were no words. It was only instrumental. I listened for a second but then got back to picking the right shade: Vermillon or Crimson? Who knew there were so many choices?
But I couldn’t ignore the melody.
The song was melancholy and epic at the same time. I put the paint down and listened intently.
As tears rolled down my cheeks.
There were no words. It was instrumental only.
And still I cried.
In fact, I was a bit overwhelmed with my emotional response to this music.
Since I lost my husband 10 months ago, music and I have had quite a journey. In the beginning of my grief, I couldn’t bear to listen to music. None of it. It was all just too sad. Are they all love songs? Or songs about God? A God I wasn’t sure I could trust anymore (and am I’m allowed to say that?)
Going back to church alone was hard. Music “bookends” our service so to avoid the worship songs, in the first few months, I would arrive late and leave early. I just couldn’t sing. Or listen. Then after a time, I began to stay later and attempted to get through the songs. I usually sat in the back so I would have an easy exit. It took several services before I didn’t escape early.
Eventually I could listen but not sing along.
Yesterday at church, I was there on time and stayed until the final Amen.
I can now sing along sometimes. The tears roll down my face and still I sing. I even raised my hand during one very meaningful chorus. I believe what I’m singing. But it still hurts. So I sing and I cry. That’s my worship right now. I think God understands.
That day in the craft store as the music played on, I grabbed my phone and asked Siri to identify the song.
Carol Ann by Michael W. Smith
This is not a new song. The album was released in November 2000! Where have I been?
I’ve never had a song, much less a song with no words, impact me so.
My first thoughts in the store, while listening over the speakers, were all about Jon. I texted my girls and said, “I’m in the middle of Hobby Lobby crying over a song I’ve never heard that has no words. So dumb. Grief is so dumb.”
I downloaded it to my playlist and played it over and over again for days.
I listened to Carol Ann while I painted. I played the song as I drove in the car. All the time thinking about Jon, his life, his love, and his accomplishments.
The song is beautiful; the instruments tell the story. Someone’s life — you can almost see it. I lamented that I had not found this song to play at Jon’s funeral. It would have been a perfect companion to the video.
But then… I almost heard God whisper, “The song is for you.” What? For me?
Yes, the song is for you…
Seriously, I don’t know if I heard God’s whisper or I have just fallen in love with this song so much that I want to adopt it as my anthem. The melody is grand in places and melancholy in others. I hear the piano solo and then I hear the whole orchestra. There are refrains of triumph and yet throughout the song there are moments of sadness.
I hope and pray for epic seasons in my life. I’m still here. God must have something for me to do. I walk alone yet I have many wonderful people in my life who come along side of me, my orchestra. I also know, no matter how blessed my life, it will always be laced with melancholy and sadness. Always. I’ve joined the massive, collective crowd of people who live their life fully even as they hold their pain.
We hold the pain. We grieve. And we live.
I will continue to listen to this beautiful song. Thank you Michael W. Smith. I’m sorry it took me so long to find it, but God’s timing is perfect.
This song IS for me.
Carol Ann and me.