Snow has a magical power. I’m not talking about the power to bring snowmen to life (sorry Frosty, that was the magician’s hat!). No it has a power that is remarkably mysterious. It has the power to stop the world and bring everything crashing down into a silence. Stand out in the snow just after it falls and you will become aware of a deafening silence. In that intense silence, we can be reminded of our past, aware of our present, and intrigued about our future. But that is not the only silence that has infected my consciousness and sent me reeling to the past on this cold, snowy day.
“The song transports me to someplace else and I’m not exactly sure where that place actually is at the moment.”
On the Shinkansen train a couple of weeks ago headed back home from Tokyo after a Judas Priest concert, my friend Joe asked me, “What have you been listening to so intently for the past thirty minutes?” So, I introduced him to the song that had been holding me captive: “The Silence” by Halestorm. I handed him my earbuds so he could check it out. After a couple of minutes, he nodded his approval. “What is it about this song that you like so much?” All I could tell him was, “Well, it chose me, really. The song transports me someplace else and I’m not exactly sure where that place actually is at the moment.”
Hard rocking Halestorm’s album Vicious will rock your world as it races ever forward riff after riff, pounding drums after pounding drums, until the last track, “The Silence”. Not only is this a vehicle for Lzzy Hale’s powerful voice, “The Silence” transports the listener someplace else. It gently coaxes you to the past, nudges you back to the present, and mercilessly forces you to think about the future. At its core, it is a love song, but to whom? Between two young lovers? To the love of one’s life for the past thirty years? Maybe, but in my mind it is also a lovelorn lament to change. “The Silence” is a beautiful tune about change and the consciousness in the song is okay with that change, even if it may not always be what is desired. Thank you Lzzy Hale for your powerful voice. Every time I listen to this melodic masterpiece, it takes me down the road of reflection, just like standing out in the snow after it falls to tune into that silence that can be comforting and upsetting all at the same time.
Everything will change, but we will still remain…I will feel you, I will see you, I will hear you after the silence.
While change can be good, it can also be very difficult. The deafening silence of this current Misawa snowfall and Hale’s melodic lament has caused me to think of the people in my past, particularly family I’ve lost. Losing someone causes life to permanently change for those that remain. Even though the song is not about death, that is where it has taken me as I listen to the silence surrounded by all the snow. Death is one of the most difficult changes a person can experience. The fact that we remain is what makes it so hard. The first death that changed me was the unexpected loss of my uncle Terry David. He was a young man with a wife and child. It was a tragic car accident and I used to have this recurring dream after he died. In my dream, he would stand in the living room of the first house I have in my memory. He would stand in front of our living room picture window that looked out into the front yard and Parallel Street recently blanketed by snowfall. He never looked sad, but he looked puzzled. He only said, “I don’t really understand, but I hope you do Little Buddy. If you don’t, you will one day because you remain.” As I would start to respond, everything would vanish in a sea of blinding light. The window, the house, and Terry David. Then I would fall and fall, never landing and then eyes wide open. I would always wake up in a sweat and, at times, calling his name. And I remained.
Another loss of family that permanently changed me was my Grandma Moody. I always thought, as most grandchildren do, that my grandmother would live forever. That myth came crashing down on me. I was an adult living in a far away land when she passed. She always called me “My Pal” and I miss that more than I could ever explain. I remember the last time we saw each other. We were at Kansas City International Airport and my wife and I were departing for the island of Kwajalein in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. Somehow, I think she knew it would be the last time we saw each other. We had said many goodbyes before as I headed off to a far away land, but that last time at KCI she had tears in her eyes as we said our goodbyes and she gripped me tighter than she usually had the strength to do with her arthritic hands . I told her I would see her next summer. And I remained.
Music is powerful. Snow is powerful. Combined they are a powerful tool of remembrance. This last snowfall, I was visited by many ghosts in the silence and I welcomed their warm embrace. My mother. Melissa’s parents. We lost them all too soon and we just weren’t prepared, but can a person ever really prepare for such a change? The last time I was with my mother it was for my birthday in December 2006. If I had known what the next few months had in store for my family, I would have forced her to stay in San Antonio or went back home to the farm with her. Could that have changed anything? Not even the power of the silent snow could know. With each loss, everything changed. Yet I remain.
© 2018 Gregory Vessar