Today I was searching on YouTube for a certain musical selection. Much to my surprise, a song which I strongly associate with my sister appeared in the sidebar, and I had no choice but to listen to it. I was already having a really rough day, and I would not have consciously chosen to immerse myself in renewed mourning.
Last spring (2010) I found a sitter for The Child and I took off for Boston, where my sister was......well, preparing to die, although none of us really knew that at the time. Her tongue cancer had returned and had taken her voice, the voice which had still sounded high-pitched and childlike even during its last utterances. Her voice, before its decline, had been so animated that during healthier times, she had been asked to record outgoing phone announcements for businesses.
She was a shadow of her former self last spring (2010), but we dared not think of the end. She and I held conversations with her side being written into a notebook, with florid handwriting, impeccable spelling and perfect grammar. My sister was smart. She had skipped 4th grade, which, due to the high standards of education in the state of New York where we grew up, was nearly unheard of.
Over the course of that visit I became reluctantly accustomed to her weak, frail, silent body. She was still herself in spirit, thanks to her unfailing willingness to write.
On the day I returned home from that visit to my sister, The Child and I went to see the movie Shutter Island. It was quite appropriate because it was set in Boston. But the piece de resistance was the song This Bitter Earth which played during the credits at the end of the movie. I was mesmerized by it, and although the child was tugging on my sleeve to leave, I could not budge.
When we returned home after the movie, I found the Shutter Island sound track of This Bitter Earth on YouTube and emailed it to my sister. That was her kind of music.
Now I can rarely bring myself to listen to it. But today it presented itself and demanded another listening. I was transported back to that time, in the spring of 2010, when my sister was still alive.