The sound first appeared to waft upwards through the grate in the floor, passing up into the hallway outside my bedroom like a leaf blown into the sky on the first day of a fall season. The sound was different, strange, creating a feeling of curiousity in my 10 year old self – drawing me closer and out of my room. It was impossible to place, and unable to recognize it I stepped closer to the large metal grate, revealing small pieces of the view of the first floor of the house through it as I stood above it. The sound wavered slow and fast, drifted off and resonated back louder than before. It was muffled, then clear, then gone, then muffled… …I bent down to the floor, and sat near the grate. Looking through to the first floor but seeing nothing but the metal grate of the floor furnace below.
I became vaguely aware of my sister standing in her bedroom doorway, as I leaned my ear down to the grate to strain at comprehending the sound. Suddenly I heard the front door open, both through the grate and from below the nearby stairs, closing – no slamming shut. Loud steps across the living room below, a pace like a run, made a familiar sound on the hardwoods that I’d heard so many times before… my Dad’s steps. I heard him speak, but what he was saying was entirely too muffled for me to make out and then I realized he had reached the source of that strange ambient sound… my mother. I heard his coat ruffle as he took her in his arms, her head lifting up to his shoulder and that sound – no longer encumbered broke free like water gushing forth from a broken dam… cries, crying, sobbing, wailing… my Dad just held her as she tried to talk to him, tried to explain what he already knew… in broken crushed destroyed words that she had gotten a phone call and her brother Butch was dead.
Ten years old. The sound had been so strange I had not even recognized it as anything. Even the words being spoken through horrific sadness floated around and beyond me and my full comprehension as I lay entirely upon the metal grate, my hands pressed upon it and my fingers laced through. Motionless I simply listened without any full understanding of the scene unfolding in the living room of my house below.
The sounds so obscure and baffling to a fifth grader are not to me today, for I know their source all too well – it is the reverberations of a heart as it cracks… it is the siren sound of a heart being ripped apart… …the sound of sorrow. Ultimate sorrow.
Experience is sometimes the biggest bitch, and as such I have made that unfortunate sound on more occasions of my life than I care to recall to count, and so I won’t. I woke up this morning from a rested sleep – it was a good night, and has been a good morning. I’m still amazed at how the mind works, just laying in bed waking up slowly and my mind moves me back in time along a loose thread of memory. A memory of the sound of sorrow.
Just a short time, hours ago, days ago… nearly two weeks now – that sound came from me – a sound made for my step daughter, Chelsea Rose Murphy. The sound of sorrow.
Loose threads of memory bringing back the time we received the news of my Uncle Butch’s untimely death. …and the first real time I heard… the sound of sorrow.