Several of our group shared a book reading and signing at Pomegranate Books, an independent bookstore in Wilmington, last Thursday. We heard Cohen, son of one of our members, speak about how he saw the group and his mother move toward healing her heart (and ours). We heard a man whose work is in behavioral health speak of the book that exposes our hearts as helpful to others. We spoke about how writing had changed and helped us on the journey toward healing in answer to questions from a writer from UNC-Wilmington. We signed books for bereaved parents and supportive friends. The cozy bookstore seemed warm and sheltering.
On Friday as I drove home, I heard the news unfold about Sandy Hook School in Newtown, Connecticut. The rawness of grief returned, cold as sleet and as freezing.
On Sunday I played handbells in a Christmas candlelight love feast service, and for those moments I sent prayers for those parents in Sandy Hook and for bereaved parents and grandparents and family everywhere through the vibrations of the singing bell and the beautiful reverberations as the bells made music.
Sad reflections were shared by email all day on Monday and Tuesday as our group of thirteen bereaved mothers wept and cared for those parents in Connecticut. The weather on Monday and Tuesday was gloomy and rainy and sleety in most of the places where the thirteen of us were, scattered across North Carolina and in a few states to the north of it.
I thought I did not want any sound by Tuesday morning. I just needed some quiet. I would sit and write for awhile, knowing that might be calming. Instead, as I sat to write, a persistent little ruby crowned kinglet flung itself at its reflection in my window over and over again. Hardly bigger than a hummingbird, the male kinglet has a hidden tuft of red feathers on the top of its head that sticks up when it is excited or agitated. Pairs of kinglets stay together until their chicks fledge. I saw that there were two launching themselves off the branches of the butterfly bush that I have not yet trimmed, and one, the female, had no red tuft on her head.
Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump. The little bird with the angry tuft of red feathers and his mate took turns flinging themselves against the window where I was trying to work, the thumps as regular as heartbeats and often a little frantic. My presence, my shadow in the window did nothing to deter them. The kinglets, I thought, must be trying to protect their brood. When I thought of it that way, I understood—for all of us parents, grandparents, citizens of this world. I wished I had had a window to fling myself against when I heard the news of my daughter’s death. I too wept that I could not protect my daughter.
Finally the kinglets stopped flinging themselves against the glass when I played the song I’ve added a link to below. Maybe they became weary or maybe the music did offer some calming vibrations. It’s one of the songs we played for our candlelight love feast. Listen in a quiet room if you choose to listen, and listen carefully for the first minute to hear the sound of a singing bell (not unlike a singing bowl if you’ve ever heard one in yoga class). The bell “sings” when the ringer holds it upside down and rubs a wooden mallet around the top edge. When it begins to reverberate for a few measures, the other bells are added to begin the soft sweet song. At the end, the reverberation you hear includes bells swaying up and down to make the sounds last longer as if waving them farther than the sound can travel to touch hearts that need healing. If you need some healing vibrations today, I offer these: http://www.handbellworld.com/music/Recordings/14664.mp3.