I turned on Good Morning America for the first time this decade this morning. I’m not sure what possessed me to do it. Lack of coffee. The insane desire to escape Sid the Science Kid for once over breakfast. I regretted it immediately as they flashed highlights of whom I think was Hannah Montana…but enough has been said already about that. (That girl’s poor Mama).Whatever the case may be, they had a story about the singer, Linda Ronstadt and her Parkinson’s diagnosis that has rendered her, and I quote, “unable to sing a note”.
Now, before you run to all kinds of assumptions, as I’ve been feeling rather sensitive about this whole, growing older bit, she was not someone I listened to growing up. My Mom loved her, but I never even particularly cared for her voice. I couldn’t off the top of my head list any song she sang that I know by name. But I did, as soon as I heard the story, cry like a baby on my couch.
The ugly cry.
The one where fluid leaks out from every opening in your face and wets your pajamas. To never sing a note again as a singer is worse than a death sentence. In a way, I suppose it is a death sentence.
Eleven years ago, I was a sophomore in college majoring in Music, sitting in an ENT’s office with a scope down my throat. I hadn’t been able to sing in months. No one could figure out what was wrong. I could speak just fine, but when it came to singing, nothing would come out past a low, A. If you know music, you know that’s not even alto range. As a second soprano, I was in trouble. But more than that, the fact that I could not sing broke my soul. I wish I was being dramatic, as I often am, but it literally, broke something inside of me. The doctors and specialists I saw in rapid succession all had different theories- we ruled out cancer, nodes, burned esophageal lining, and other things I couldn’t pronounce. The final, holding diagnosis was stress and strained vocal chords from over-practice.
To say my second year of college was stressful is the understatement of the century, but that’s a story I guard closely, hold deeply and share with few. But to lose my voice trumped it all.
Through therapy and reparative care, I gradually gained back my ability- though it never really got back to where it was before. I reflect on that time often when I feel like I am lost, floundering. Forgotten who I was or what I was made to do. I would rather lose a limb than lose my voice. Truly.
It makes me so thankful to know that. That there is something sacred to me about this gift, something “other”.
Linda’s story made my soul cry out in pain for her- and with thankfulness at the same time at the reminder.
What would break your soul if you were unable to do it?
Are you doing it now?
Everyone hates Mondays, but on this stormy one, I hope you’re able to think about what God has given you to use- and how you’re using it. We never know how long we’ll have it.