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Beauty in the Breakdown – You Sure?

letgoMusic uplifts my mood. It helps me focus and makes me happy. I will typically be listening to techno-pop — it’s better than caffeine if I want a pick-me-up.

I first heard Let Go by Frou Frou when watching Garden State (I thought it was on at the closing of an episode of Gray’s Anatomy — a show I never really watched, but Internet sources won’t validate my recollective memory on that point). It’s been in my head, but never on my iPod, so I finally downloaded it last week. I like the tune and the focus on “letting go and jumping in.”

However, today this song brought me to tears as the words hit me very differently. For a few weeks I’ve noticed a decline in my Mom. When I arrive at her community she is in the living room playing bridge with a new group of residents. Now that she has spotted me, she wants to leave the game, but I encourage her to return – they can’t play without her. She insists we go to her apartment while the bridge group is taking a break. Within a few minutes there is a knock on the door asking her to return and she is really rude to bridge player that has come to invite her back to the game. I decide I have to walk her back to the game and I stay within eyesight so she knows I won’t leave until we can spend some time together. 

We visit after the game is over and she is having trouble talking with me today. I’m confounded and amused as she complains that they were beginner bridge players. She can’t remember what day it is, so I wonder how she can remember her bids and those of her table mates. I’m told long-term memory hangs on and she is a bridge life master. There are so many aspects of her day that are mysteries to me.

After my father’s death, I realized that much of the grieving and acceptance I did as my parents were moving into dementia allowed me to manage while they were still on the planet, but I have been humbled by the depth of loss I have felt over my Dad. If he didn’t have dementia and I was not his caregiver, would his loss be as profound? I shall never know.

As I’m leaving the Assisted Living community today, I play my recently downloaded song. I knew the gist of words, but today I hear there is “beauty in the breakdown” and burst into tears.

This experience has changed me in many ways. I recognize that I’m a much kinder, gentler version of my former self. For that I’m grateful. However, I can’t find any beauty today in the loss of my mother. Searched.

So, let go,
Jump in
Oh well, what you waiting for?
It’s alright
‘Cause there’s beauty in the breakdown
So, let go, yeah let go
Just get in
Oh, it’s so amazing here
It’s all right
‘Cause there’s beauty in the breakdown

2 comments on “Beauty in the Breakdown – You Sure?

  1. Reblogged this on Going Gentle Into That Good Night and commented:
    This resonated deeply with me. Music is such a powerful force in our lives. Since Mama died, there is much music that we shared throughout our time together that I simply can’t listen to without tears flooding my eyes as memories run their movies, crisp, clear, and vivid through my mind.

    Unlike Kay, I’m not a big fan of techno-pop, preferring alternative, indie, and grunge, but I listen mainly to Radio Paradise, an internet music station that plays the most diverse range of music that I’ve been able to find, and they have played “Beauty in the Breakdown” by Frou Frou.

    Ironically, it caught my attention the first time I heard it as well. I immediately saw the double meaning in my own life.

    Mama’s breakdown. There was no beauty to that to be sure. However, there were beautiful moments throughout the journey. Two are prominent in my mind, when in the middle of all the chaos, confusion, and pain, Mama was delightfully Mama again. I’ve never been able to explain the timing, however, because both were just before big changes. One was the Saturday morning before Mama’s breakdown several hours later and the other was the Saturday and Sunday morning before Mama went into her death sleep in the early hours of that Sunday afternoon.

    My own breakdown after Mama’s death. Beauty? It certainly doesn’t seem to be true on the surface.

    I’ve never been a visibly emotional person. I worked hard, diligently, painstakingly at “controlling” my emotions all my life. I have always been very deeply affected by things and people and situations, but I found ways to keep a tight lid on that so it never showed and built fortresses around myself to protect myself.

    Those fortresses began to crack after Daddy died. I never knew how deeply, how long, and how hard grief could be. I also never knew that the hole left in a heart from losing someone you love never heals completely. But I had Mama to take care of so it helped me move on quickly, burying, I think, much of what I was trying to come to grips with, and get back to the business at hand. She needed me, and that was more important.

    But when Mama died, the very foundations of those fortresses seemed to have collapsed. It seems that every emotion I suppressed, hid, buried, ignored decided it was time to deal with it. All at once. In an overwhelming flood that has been difficult, to say the least, to try to sort through, make sense of, and get past.

    These days, it seems I can barely speak a sentence without my voice cracking and tears welling up in my eyes. It seems as though everything is right beneath the surface waiting to just spill out without warning. I have cried rivers of tears and yet there seems to be no end to how many rivers are left. I keep thinking at some point there just can’t be any more tears, and then they come again.

    But although right now I seem to be drowning in this ocean of tears, I recognize the beauty in it. Because there is some healing in the process. I’ve learned that sometimes to fix something that’s not working right or well, you have to take it completely apart, and put it back together the right way, piece by piece. And that takes time.

    And, like Kay, I do recognize this about myself: “I recognize that I’m a much kinder, gentler version of my former self. For that I’m grateful.”

  2. […] Her decline is escalating and unfortunately, she’s getting more combative. I’ve noticed this on my visits as we interact with others in the community — at least she is usually kind to me. However, she now believes someone stole a card set she used to run bridge games and this is causing grief for everyone. She has always tended to perseverate on specific topics and this month, its the bridge card set. My mom turned over the set to a woman to run the games but doesn’t remember and/or doesn’t like it on any given day. […]

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