He never stopped living. Even after having to permanently travel with an exygen tank, he never stopped living; even after multiple surgeries that left him weak and incoherent, he never stopped living; even after collapsing in the middle of the parking lot-severely scrapinig his face and body forcing him to be confined to a bed, he still never stopped living. The last time I saw my grandfather, I remember hearing a sound I had never paid close enough attention to. A sound that was always muffled by medical machines, wheezing, talking, even footsteps. I never forgot that sound-silence. I believe in the power of sound.
Sound is something found in our daily life. It fills and even overflows our world. Wherever you go, noise follows. The sound of a humming air conditioner, the sound of a car fighting its way through traffic, the sound of the wind as it blows past your face. Sometimes we are so use to hearing it that we forget what it’s like to not have it – to not have absolute silence.
I never realized how easily sound can connect you to your thoughts. As I sat in the living room, staring at my shoes, the silence connected me to the pain I felt deep in the bottom of my stomach. All the years of hearing him try to whisper words of love and care through the struggling breath, I had never realized connected me to the feelings I felt deep within me. The feeling of worry, as I listened so hard for each breath from the tank to make sure it never stopped. The feeling of happiness, when I was forced for another day with the sound of squeaky wheels on a tank case. The feeling of excitement when the doctor would say, “everything looked okay.”
Each sound raised a flag in me for a new emotion. The power of a simple noise to give you a command or signal is amazing to consider. When a rescue vehicle runs its siren, the sound clears a path in a matter of seconds. If a bell rings in a filled waiting room, an oasis of heads turn to await the name being announced. Whatever the sound is, it travels through the complex wires throughout the body, awakening whatever response is connected to that sound. But silence connects us to the fears we try so hard to hide.
As I sat in the living room I feared it was the end. The lack of sound in that room brought me to the realization of an idea I had pushed to the back of my mind-it was all over. It had taken the power of silence to pull me back into a world I dreaded to face. At the age of six I was still unaware of the things around me but I knew well enough what silence meant. The love and hope found in the sounds I became so use to, died in the early hours of the morning.
Sound fills each day with a new meaning. Each encounter with a simple noise or a common one brings me into a different state of mind. I feared silence that one day so many years ago, but today, silence brings me peace. It was not sound that died in the early hours of that morning, but my fear found within those sounds I knew so well. I believe in the power of sound because it believes in the feelings I hold for each one that exists.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.