One of the repercussions of the long ICU stay was that I had to relearn many things I previously took for granted, like sitting up without slumping over, eating without choking, walking without feeling like my legs were going to buckle. Fortunately, these skills were quickly regained, within days of leaving the ICU.
Singing, however, was another matter. I could barely talk, so singing felt like such a long shot. In the bigger scheme of things, it just didn’t seem all that important.
Music is an integral part of my growing up. Strains of Bach, the Carpenters & Mother Goose filled our sound space as children; Mom kept the record player on for our entertainment pretty much all day long. Listening to the classical radio station & playing “Who is the Composer?” was a common car game we played. As a tween, I remember excitedly informed my father that a new CD recording of Peter & the Wolf had been released, with Sting as the narrator. The next thing I knew, my father took me to buy a CD player, then the CD, so that we could listen to it together. As a teen and young adult, singing, composing and banging out Christian pop songs on the piano got me through some of my darkest hours. When I became a parent, I developed a penchant for making up silly song rhymes, and singing made-up lyrics (only because I didn’t know the actual lyrics) to songs playing on the radio or the CD player.
At the risk of coming across falsely modest, I do not consider myself a good singer; I am neither trained nor particularly talented. Yes, I can carry a tune; yes, my voice is neither grating nor hideous. My piano playing also leaves much to be desired. My sight-reading is pretty good, but my short attention span leaves me to prone to drift off in the middle of a piece and then have to scramble to re-locate my place; certainly not the a good trait as an accompanist. This did not stop me from singing in various choirs and ensembles, or accompanying the hymn singing at chapel, as well as accompanying my friends during concerts. It was just too much fun and for some strange reason, my peers were extremely tolerant & accommodating.
Coming out of ICU, I was seized with panic at the thought I might never sing again. It is ironic to note that at a time when I was relearning the rudimentary functions of my body, I was fussing over Singing.
Older Daughter was instrumental in coaxing my lax vocal muscles back to health, patiently giving me exercises to try, and encouraging me even on days I was exhausted and felt like giving up. Almost 3 months after my return home, I can just about sing like I used to. I am still working on breath control & stamina, but I think we are almost there. Since I have been given another shot at this life, maybe this time around, I will go get some singing lessons. And practice a little harder at the piano playing while I am at it.
Last week, I chanced upon this TED Talk with Megan Washington. Singing has some serious life-affecting consequences for her. Listening to her podcast reminded me of the great number of things I have to be grateful for, and to look forward to.