I Pray for Their Sound
“Silence is the most powerful cry.”
-Life is Beautiful
Four years ago, I would have been perplexed by the magnitude of such a statement; I would have believed it impossible that void of sound could create such an overwhelming response. That was before I met the dark face of silence and realized what it means to be without sound.
I lived with their sounds every day: thundering footsteps on the stairs down the hall, shrill yells for me to wake up, rumbling voices on the television followed by high-pitched laughter, angry shouts that led to pitiful cries of pain. My brothers were noise. They did not understand the concept of whispering or an inside voice. They proclaimed everything loudly and boisterously, announcing it to the world. Voices magnified by the shrill pitch of children ages three and five echoed in my ears.
All I ever wanted was for them to calm down, quit talking, whisper or just SHUT UP! The screams, the crying, the booming; it consumed everything. Eventually my body started reacting to the noise: my heart pumped to the beat of their running, my chest inhaled in time with their screams, my eyes blinked with every crash. I expected the noise, and sat waiting, listening, anticipating it every day. It was how our family functioned: loudly.
The crashes of my brothers’ fights never compared to the way our family crashed after the divorce. They went west with Mom, while I stayed home with Dad. Then there was silence. Everyday I live with the silence they left behind when they drove away. I ask myself: where are the feet to run my heart, where are the screams that call for my air, where are the crashes that will blink away my tears?
Their rude noise annoyed me, but nevertheless comforted me. It let me know they were still here. I experience silence more deafening than any sound; it reminds me that something is missing, makes me think of how far they must be for those sounds to be unheard. The silence they make cries to me every time I leave them. And every time I leave, I pray for their sound.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.