Late one summer night, I hit a writer’s block when typing one of the most important pieces I will ever have to write: my grandfather’s eulogy. I’ve learned over the years to overcome these hindrances and the right words somehow always found their way. But I had never had to spill my heart like this in my work.
I was a mess. Everything I wanted to say was in my head but the words I wrote fell apart like ash. The funeral was the next day, so I was on deadline.
I stepped away to refocus and something compelled me to play some Sun Kil Moon. Out of all the albums I could have listened to at that moment, I chose one I didn’t particularly like.
After a few tracks, I encountered a touching song about death. It was enough to finally break down my emotional walls:
Then there was magic. The tears flowed out of me as the words, the ones for which I had been searching, trickled onto the screen.
I’ve written a lot of material over the years, but the past couple months pushed me like nothing else ever has. Giving it a chance to sink in, I can say that those trials yielded the two best pieces I may ever write. One was my grandfather’s eulogy, which will go down as one of the hardest things I have ever had to do.
The other was a couple weeks ago for my wedding where, instead of vows, our minister asked the bride and I to finish the following, independently from one another: “The reason I want to spend the rest of my life with you is because…”
He would then read our answers aloud at the ceremony, the first time either of us would hear the others’ reply.
Hearing our vows read aloud was a tremendous moment for us and for those in attendance, or so I was told (I was too caught up in the moment to notice). As a result, I saw sides of friends and family I had never seen before. The minister was even getting emotional, which was a sign that we were a part of something magical.
But the letter that I wrote, again, was not easy to come by. I wrote passage after passage, wondering if I should go anecdotal or conceptual; praise her or focus on me becoming a better person. I scrapped probably 1,000 words worth of heartfelt affirmations.
So I stopped to listen to every love song I could to spark some motivation until I finally landed on this gem:
And once again, my heart took it upon itself to write the right words. The best words.
I don’t believe in “there are no words.” There are always words. There are words to describe the memories and values your grandparents left behind. There are words to describe that the person you married is the best thing that ever happened to you.
And when you simply can’t find the words, there is always Music.
The spaces between the words is feeling. You can’t find feeling in silence and you can’t expose your heart when it’s distracted. I had all the words I needed to compose the eulogy and the vow, I just needed the proper ambiance to streamline my emotions and bring them out. It didn’t matter what the song was about, I just had to feed off its mood.
Finding the perfect song for the perfect moment is one of life’s great miracles. Sometimes, as I believe is the case here, the Music finds you.
There are people who treat Music like background noise and nothing more. But Music gives me, and everything around me, life. I spend most of my waking moments wrapped in a melody, a tiny little world where you can cry or laugh, hate or love, and everything in between.
Over these past few months, you helped me cope with my sorrows and you elevated my joys. You gave me strength and helped me find the words to honor my loved ones when I needed it most. I’m more indebted now to you than I ever was.
Music, I thank you. I just hope that counts for something.
The writings mentioned in this post will not be reprinted here out of respect to the subjects for whom they were written. Furthermore, their novelty is contingent on the moment in which they were spoken.