When You Think Words Are Not Enough

I can barely hear the faint melody of Glenn Miller’s trombone bellowing out Moonlight Serenade in the next room. I’ve always loved the big band sound, as I was raised on it. My parents played the music of Harry James, Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, and all the rest on our old HiFi in the 60s. Music from the 40s seemed ancient to me as a youngster, but I still appreciated it. Perhaps because they loved it so, I cherished it more. The memories are fond and cheerful. But hearing it now through the walls, the swing music sends tears streaming down my face. My mother is listening to the songs I helped her download onto her iPhone, as she lies in her bed, in the darkness, alone. My father, a few miles away in his bed in the nursing home, is sleeping in the fog and confusion of Alzheimer’s, weeks after his broken hip has healed. The smooth sounds of String of Pearls play at his bedside as often as we can manage. He was a trumpet player in his college band and a bugler on a navy ship. Does he remember? Does he reminisce about the glory days of his youth when he courted my mother? Do the songs playing in his ear evoke the same memories as hers?  What a cruel fate, to still have your husband of 62 years, and yet not have him. What does it do to a woman to be waiting for her mate to heal and come home, all the while knowing that she is really waiting for him to die? And what can I do to make the days, weeks, months not just more bearable, but a blessing? Will words be enough? Time spent?  I feel completely inadequate. The void she must be feeling seems remote and abstract to me, but I am struck by the truth that I can comfort her. I know that words will be enough and time spent with her will indeed be a blessing. And to the buttery trumpet sound of Harry James’ Blues In The Night and The Nearness of You, I will listen to her stories of college and dance halls and movies and anything else she wants to remember.