54: Whispered Melodies

54: Whispered Melodies

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Messages from Heaven

Whispered Melodies

Music is well said to be the speech of angels.

~Thomas Carlyle

Two constants in my childhood were my grandparents and the sweet melodies of the many music boxes that lulled me to sleep. Both gave me great comfort and happiness. And later, as an adult, one would deliver a very special message from the other.

When I was four I developed a fear of the dark and started having nightmares. In their efforts to ease my anxiety and help with my insomnia, my parents gave me a music box. The music box played soothing tunes that would sweep me off into a dreamland where no darkness existed, and would allow me to sleep without fear.

Throughout my childhood, my parents would put me in the car and we’d make the one-hour journey to my grandparents’ house, where we spent every other weekend. I spent my days there exploring the fields, chasing after cousins, baking with my grandmother, and spending time with my grandfather. Every day there was a new adventure.

When nighttime fell and I was bundled off to bed, my grandmother would bring in one of her own music boxes to lull me to sleep. My favorite was the dancing unicorn. Sitting on a mirrored pedestal, the crystal unicorn moved in a circle when wound up. The light from my nightlight would hit it just right, casting a magical twinkle around the room.

As I grew up, my need for the music boxes ended. I finished high school and moved away. And as I changed, so did the world around me. By the time I started university, my grandmother was in a nursing home and my weekend adventures with them were reduced to a few hours by her bedside with my grandfather.

One day in 2004 I received a call that was expected, but no less heart wrenching. My grandfather had passed away. I didn’t grieve. I didn’t feel. I went through the motions, but it was as if I refused to accept the end of this chapter in my life.

With my grandfather gone and my grandmother in a nursing home, it fell to my family to pack up the house they had shared for many years. It was then that I found a memory from my childhood — the crystal unicorn upon its mirrored pedestal. I pulled it out of the box it had been packed in and wiped off the dust.

The music box had not been used in years. I probably had been the last person to hear its melody when I was a child still afraid of the dark. My hand rested on the lever that would bring it back to life, but I was unable to wind it. This unicorn was not just a memory of sweet music, but of a time when my grandparents were a large presence in my life. I was afraid that bringing the unicorn back to life now, in a time of mourning and grief, would corrupt that memory. So I took it home and placed it by my bed, but its tune remained silent.

Three years had passed when I received another heart wrenching call. My grandmother had passed away. It wasn’t until after I had returned home from the funeral that the impact of losing not only my grandmother, but my grandfather too, finally sank in. I crumbled under the weight of my grief.

I grieved not just the loss of two beloved people in my life but also the connection they represented: the stories of their experiences, their wisdom, unique personalities, and the way they enjoyed life with each other and their family. I would miss it all and, as I had come to realize, I would miss that part of myself. I grieved for the person I had become thanks to their lessons — the person I had forgotten in my rush to start my life.

As I buried my face in my pillow, I caught sight of the unicorn. For so long I feared what I would lose if I allowed the music to touch me again. But in that moment I realized it wasn’t that I was afraid of what I would lose, but afraid to remember what I had forgotten.

I wound up that music box and let the unicorn dance for the first time in over a decade. As I watched it circle around, the pale light from my window catching the mirrors, my eyes became heavy and I slipped off to sleep as it played its last few notes. I know I dreamt that night, but the details escape me. What I do remember is a sense of innocence and childlike longing to have just one more day with my grandparents.

When morning came I found myself still facing the unicorn — still and silent. The loss was still fresh. Then without being touched, that unicorn danced, its music playing a message from Heaven. My grandparents were with me in that moment, and they were reminding me that they would always be with me.

I will always have my memories, the wisdom I was taught, and the feelings of comfort and family. It took a message from beyond to remind me. I will always have my grandparents, and the whispered melodies reminded me of what matters most.

That unicorn remains by my bed to this day. When I struggle to find my path, feel lost and alone, or just having a hard time sleeping, I wind it up to let it dance and its music carries me away to a place of inspiration and love. Those melodies whisper of the past, but are a reminder for the future — to love without hesitation, to live life completely, and to never forget.

~Tara Scaife

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