Thursday, December 12, 2013

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

Last year Kyle and I discovered the "Lower Lights", a 
local Utah band made up of a bunch of local Utah 
artists who banded together to make the group the 
Lower Lights. 

They are fabulous and we fell in love.
Head over heels.  

Each Christmas they perform a magical and moving
Christmas concert at the Masonic Temple in downtown
Salt Lake City.

You laugh, you cry, you sing along.  It is a 
highlight of our Christmas season.  There is clapping
and joke telling and fedoras and beards galore.

(We've noticed musicians and artsy men can pull
of the "fedora and beard look" like no one else can.)

Kyle has often joked of his love for group member
Sarah Sample, who he says has "the voice of an angel".

(She's not very ugly either....and SHE DOES
have the "voice of an angel" to boot.)

He has said if he could have ANYONE sing at his
funeral (that he of course doesn't know or have any
slight connection to) it would be her.

I have to agree.  Sometimes I lip sync to her voice
with a hairbrush in front of my mirror and pretend
it's me.

Only, I can't sing, and I'm not lovely and blond.

But a girl can always pretend right?

She DOES have the voice of an angel.

As chance would have it, our lives intersected
via Instagram one day, and we exchanged a few emails.

She encouraged us to find her after the show this year(and 
she was quite possibly "just being nice", but when you have
terminal cancer--you jump on EVERY chance even when, or
even if, people are "just being nice".  Because what
have you got to loose, right?)

This year we went downtown to the concert with some
good friends from the neighborhood.

We find that some people are very uncomfortable
around us now, to the point of avoidance.

We think cancer makes it uncomfortable.
People don't know what do say.  Or what to do.
Or how to act. (To which the answer to ALL of the
above is: ACT NORMAL, just how you always have.)

But it's okay--we get it.  We wouldn't have
known what to do.  Or say.  Or how to act a year
ago either.

So we're SUPER grateful for those who are NOT
afraid to be around us still.  Thanks for
hanging out "inside the frying pan" as we lovingly
call it.

Frying pan friends and family??

You guys are golden.  Thanks for being
brave enough to take a singe or two to the feet
for our cause and stand here with us.

The show was JUST as lovely as last year, if not more
so.  Sarah, and the gang, sang like angels and whatever
the male equivalent of an angel is and we had the 
best time ever.

Ryan Tanner (from the group) told the heart 
breaking story of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 
and how the song "I Heard the
Bells on Christmas Day" came about. 

(It involved horrors of watching his wife burn
to death and a child being killed and some other
stuff to horrible for me to remember right now.
Google it, it will make you cry your eyes out).

And I thought MY life was bad?? Sheesh, me and 
Henry would've had a lot to chat about.

Anyway, his point in the telling was that he found
that GREAT music, was music that could make you feel
despair and happiness in your heart all within the 
same song.  He said that any good song worth its
weight in banjo notes, or piano chords, could do that. 

Your heart could break in sadness and expand in joy.

All in the same song.

I find that the journey of cancer has been much
like a "Great Song" thus far.  

I find that many days Kyle and I,

(especially "I", as the more emotional of the two 
of us--and that is NOT correct English I am FULLY
aware of that....)

well, I find that we swing from heartache and heartbreak 
to happiness and joy in the same day, and the same 
breath of the same sentence of the same day.

We feel despair and joy simultaneously in the same
heartbeat some days.  It is excruciating and painfully
pleasurable all at the same time.

And as Kyle's story continues to play out through
chords and verses and notes that weave together over
the passage of time, we are creating a masterpiece, a
symphony and a new song.

One that breaks our hearts.
And fills us with joy.

We took Sarah Sample up her her "request"
this year and met her after the show.  She hugged us and 
told us she read our story and she hugged Kyle and
gave us best wishes as we continue this 'song'.

She was lovely and warm and kind and smiled and 
grabbed us and drew us in tightly.  It felt like
hugging an old friend, even though she is virtually
a stranger.  Her voice and her songs and her goodness
has touched our lives, along with many others.

She radiates the beauty of love and light through
her music and song.  

Kyle was thrilled to cross "Meet Sarah Sample" off
of his bucket list.

And Sarah?  If you're still reading....Kyle STILL
wants you to sing at his funeral.   One can wish

So we continue on through this Christmas season, 
making memories, holding tightly to one another.

We are creating a song, Kyle's song, a song that will
be filled with happiness and despair, a song that will
lift us and break us and carry us onward.

And even as unmusical as we are in this family, this
song will be woven into the very fabric of our souls.

It will always be a part of who we are.

It may be only that we stand with a hairbrush and sing
it in front of a mirror, trying to be brave when no one
is watching, but we continue to sing the notes we
never expected to have to sing.  Notes that we do not know.
Notes that come unbidden to us every day and every night.

But because of this, the despair mixed with joy, 
in the end we know it will be a GREAT song.  A song
that will be worth remembering and replaying over
and over.

A song that will shatter us and lift us in the same 
breath.  So we continue onward, making figurative music,
in this fight of our lives.

Making music.

Moving forward.

And THAT?  It's what I've got for today.

 Us and The Jefferies, making memories.

Sarah, Eliza, Kyle and Puddy


  1. Sounds like a wonderful evening. Thanks for sharing this and so many other parts of your life. It's helped me a lot in remembering to be there for others, enjoy the little moments and the big and so many other things. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

  2. Thanks so much~ Merry Christmas to you and yours as well! :)