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The Forgotten Song

I was trying to remember a song this week.  Usually I have a song pop into my brain, and I have to figure out how I know it or the words that go with the tune.  This time, I remembered that an old friend had taught me a song, but I couldn’t remember any other detail other than (1) it was in Hebrew, (2) I used to sing it all the time and (3) I heard it again at a Purim party a few years back.

I searched popular song lists and my notebooks, but I couldn’t remember anything about this song: not the tune, not a word in the title.  I could just remember where I was when I learned it and this memory: when the boy sang it to me for the first time, I was thinking about a child I once saw in Tzvat struggling to carry an enormous dog down a set of stone steps.  I had asked the boy if I could take his photo because it was such a funny image, but the boy refused to have his picture taken.  That’s what I was thinking about while the boy sang — that child and his dog.

I decided that I wouldn’t bother wasting my whole morning trying to remember the song title; I would go straight to the source.  I would Google the boy who taught me the song and email him.  It had been his favourite song 20 years ago.  He would know exactly what I was trying to remember.

The first hit was his obituary.

He died about two years ago.  His picture was at the top of the obit.  He looked the same, though his curls were thinner.

This is what I thought about as I looked at the photo:

After my grandfather died, he organized the whole camp to sing John Denver’s “Country Roads” when I returned to work because he knew I needed it.  He would call me up in the middle of the night and invite me out to eat cake.  I think of him every time I use the word ‘incredulous’ because one time, while we were eating lunch under a tree, I used the word while speaking to a child and he said, “I am incredulous that you would use the word incredulous with her.”  And I looked at the child and said, “What does incredulous mean?”  And the child returned the definition.  He used to go with me every week to the Peace Pagoda.  He once kissed me in my living room while I was balancing on the bike I was rebuilding, my feet on the pedals and my hands on the back of a chair.

All those things happened, and now he was gone.

I don’t know why I felt so sad.  I hadn’t seen him in 20 years.  I hadn’t spoken to him in probably 15 years.  I felt like I didn’t have a right to feel sad; like it wasn’t my death to mourn because I chose to let us drift apart when I moved out of town.  But I was sad.  I was really sad because there was once this person on earth who would thoughtfully teach an entire camp of children to sing a person’s favourite song just because he knew she was having a hard time and now that person was gone.

I started crying, and then his song popped into my brain.


1 TasIVFer { 10.09.16 at 8:33 am }

This story took my breath away. <3

2 Corinne Rodrigues { 10.09.16 at 8:40 am }

I’m sorry about your friend. There are so many old ‘friends’ who I don’t have any contact with too, and I think when I hear of them passing or something bad happening to them, I’m still sad. Sad in part too that shared memories and great times together, still couldn’t keep these relationships going. I guess what I’m trying to say is that you do have a right to be sad at his passing.

3 a { 10.09.16 at 9:06 am }

Why wouldn’t you feel sad? Who says you can only mourn those people you know right now? You know the sadness of lost potential, and you have lost the potential to reconnect. So, I’m sorry for your loss.

But I am glad you remembered the song. That kind of thing is really annoying.

4 MissingNoah { 10.09.16 at 12:45 pm }

I am so sorry. I felt similarly when I saw the obituary of an old friend a few years ago. We hadn’t spoken in over 10 years, and we parted on bad term. But it still hit me like a ton of bricks, and 2 years later I still think about him.

5 Noemi { 10.09.16 at 1:02 pm }


6 torthuil { 10.09.16 at 4:44 pm }

Touching and so sad too! Even though the past is always past and truly there’s no way to go back, there’s a poignant finality when someone who shares your memories does. Its like losing a link to who you used to be. The song is a powerful memento of your friendship though: music has transcendent power.

7 torthuil { 10.09.16 at 4:45 pm }

(When someone who shares your memories dies)

8 Jess { 10.09.16 at 6:21 pm }

What a beautiful, heartbreaking story. Sending you hugs, I can’t imagine NOT crying after experiencing that memory, that slice of time, and realizing that it was forever gone.

9 Lori Lavender Luz { 10.09.16 at 8:27 pm }

These types of losses are so weird. The heart cares not for sense.

Remember a few years ago when the girl I’d been in high school with, the one who had become a birth mother our junior year — remember how out-of-proportion my sadness was then for her? I get it.

And I’m sorry for your loss. It is a loss.

10 Mrs T { 10.09.16 at 10:55 pm }


11 JustHeather { 10.10.16 at 7:10 am }

My heart hurts with you. As I read this, I was reminded of the guy I went to high school with who committed suicide earlier this year. I hadn’t talked to him in years (aside from FB) and seen him in even longer, but I was terribly sad hearing that he was gone. I still get pangs of sadness that he is gone. I understand. *hugs*

12 Cristy { 10.10.16 at 4:34 pm }

Sending you love, Mel. I’m so sorry for your loss.

13 loribeth { 10.14.16 at 3:17 pm }

Oh boy… this reminds me of my not-long-ago post about Googling my Grade 8 English teacher. I understand, and I am sorry. 🙁

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