By Sarah Albrecht
Rene Allen was unable to do her blog for today, so she asked me to sub for her. I am both excited and a bit nervous for the chance since this is my first time to post. As I thought about what to write, I kept returning to family, a bit like getting lost and wandering and then finding myself back at the beginning. Like most people, for me family is the beginning I inevitably circle back to.
I am a mother of four children, ages fourteen, eleven, nine and four. When my husband and I were expecting our oldest child, a daughter, we considered several names for her, some silly, some serious. One of the names was Melody, a name I loved because of the comfort and pleasure I had always found in playing and listening to music, but we decided to wait until the baby’s birth to make sure the name fit the child.
At some point during the last trimester, the baby stopped growing; the doctor suspected an undersized placenta and induced her early. We worried whether she had gotten enough oxygen and nourishment to be healthy, so when she was born--tiny but without complications-- we rejoiced and chose Melody for her name because her cries were music to our ears. Secretly I also hoped that the name would become self-fulfilling, that Melody would love music, especially playing the piano, as I did.
She didn’t. As Melody’s childhood progressed, we noticed that learning or trying most new things seemed tremendously stressful for her. To avoid the stress, she resisted new things. I waited until she was eight to have her start lessons, hoping she would have the maturity to try, but she hated it from the beginning. We stopped lessons within two years, about the time her stress levels over life in general seemed to peak and she was diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder, a genetic anxiety disorder unrelated to the concerns we had at her birth.
For me, that was a knotted-stomach time with struggles at home, struggles at school, and little music. However, we worked through understanding, accepting, and managing Melody’s diagnosis, and eventually I noticed her developing in ways I hadn’t anticipated. She had an incredibly empathetic understanding of others’ feelings and motivations. She would seek out and include the underdog. She had no reservations around special-needs children and would go out of her way to find and love them at school. She had her own music, her own melody that brought comfort and pleasure to her and everyone she met.
My daughter will never play the piano, but she has taught me to listen for life’s melodies without music, borne like prayers without wind to carry them, to the ears of those who will hear.