My mother used to hum and sing all the time. Wherever she was in the house, regardless what we would be going through or, more likely, be in dire need of, there’d be a song playing soundtrack to the scene of our lives. For years it annoyed me, partly because I myself was an unhappy person, largely because I didn’t understand it. It was something I never forgot though, something that would come to mean so much more to me in latter years.
I remember my first non-sensical humming outburst; we had been going for weeks without much food. Our bills were coming apart at the seams and there was no hope of some kind of reprieve in sight. In the midst of the proverbial scale of misfortune tilting southward, they cut off our water and left behind a little blue note.
I remember I picked up that little blue note from the gate and began my slow, painful walk back inside the house. A million thoughts raced around like my head was open season at Monaco and all I could sum up from the chaos in my head was that I had run out of options. My human mind had run out of ways to save the situation and my family.
My daughter was back from school already on that day; dinner was expected at 7 and I knew there would be clearing up and dish washing to be done afterwards. A bedtime story would need to be read sometime after 7.30. Someone would need to make sure all the doors and windows are bolted before the last light was switched off. The universe would get on with be business of being, thus rendering my self pity, my despair, null and void.
I looked around the house, my gaze falling on every one of the items still intact by some Grace and felt each possession speak back to me. They seemed to be recalling events that had occurred in our life together, the tea cups telling stories of so-and-so who wouldn’t let up on the milk or sugar, the framed photos chattering on about the moments that had bore them into existence. All of them seemed to have so much to say about our lives, yet none could tell me what to do to save us from sinking.
With a certainty I’d never experienced before, I began to hum. I hummed to silence the cluelessness filling the spaces in my heart, hummed to numb the pangs of loneliness and solitude I felt wrestling with our troubled life. There was so much to do and not much I could do, so I hummed. I belted out a melody so happy it made my belly sore to stop humming. It calmed me and crept beneath my heart, lay there and began to warm up the places above and beneath that sacred space.
That song that my mother sang in her hour of need may have not solved our problems, paid our bills or put food on our dinner table. Yet when I sang just as she had in my hour of need, I knew what she knew: that song was a war cry. That song was my rage against the dying machine: my infallible, vulnerable mind. That song was the best defense against a crumbling life.
So here’s my solemn word: as long as I live and breath, always and forever in my hour of need, I will let my nonsensical humming be heard by all who need hope. I will sing for me, for faith, for strength and even for you.