The drum and the descant

(one of my favorite pictures, ever)

I really only listen to music when I’m driving.  And I tend to listen to the same song over and over again.  I know, normal!  On any given day a different song is preoccupying me.  Coldplay’s Fix You, U2′s Kite, and Matt Nathanson’s Come On Get Higher have all played on repeat in my car (and in my head).  A few years ago, December 2004 specifically, it was Shawn Colvin singing Love Came Down at Christmas.  I remember it vividly.  It was freezing, I had a two year old toddler, and I was pregnant with Whit.

The song is on my very favorite Christmas CD, which I listen to all year round but constantly during this month. Last Friday the familiar notes of Love Came Down at Christmas came on as Grace, Whit, and I were driving to school.

“Whit,” I said, turning around to look at him, wearing his new wool hat with robots on it.  “I listened to this song over and over and over again when you were in my tummy.”

“I remember that,” Grace chimed in authoritatively, though I’m certain she does not.  He smiled.  Both kids, for some reason, love stories of when I was pregnant with them and of when they were babies.

“You used to kick whenever it came on,” I mused, remembering the feeling of feet in my ribs, the eerie, powerful sensation of another person turning over inside of me.  The kind of feeling you couldn’t imagine until you experience it.  And one that fades; I can hardly remember that sensation any more, so unique in its joint visceral physicality and overpowering spirituality.

“Maybe I was trying to be the drums,” Whit offered casually from the backseat.

Oh, Whit.  Yes.  You are the drumbeat of my life, steady, underlying everything, a constant presence.  Your humor and stubbornness, intractability and lovingness twine together into the rhythm to which my life is set.

Grace, you are the soaring descant.  Sometimes your notes are there, lifting me to the rafters with their beauty, sometimes not, their absence as keenly felt as their presence.  A sound less steady, higher at its highs and lower at its lows.

Together you two are creating every day the music of my life.  The song that I, who is tone deaf and woefully unskilled at all things musical, hear in my head every single hour.  The tune to which I walk, stumble, and dance.


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12 Comments

  1. Posted December 7, 2010 at 5:01 am | Permalink

    An amazing image in words. Wish I had my paper and pens but will try to capture it for you at some point.

    Your children inspire you, but your words inspire me.

    XO

  2. Posted December 7, 2010 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    Oh, the “walk, stumble, and dance” of parenthood – it’s perfect. Perfectly written, perfectly true. And there’s something lovely and hopeful about the stumbling being held up on both sides by the walking and dancing.

  3. Posted December 7, 2010 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    That is a glorious picture!

  4. Posted December 7, 2010 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    I love that picture too! Beautiful words today.

  5. Posted December 7, 2010 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    One of your favorite photos. One of my favorite posts by you. Beautiful.

  6. Posted December 7, 2010 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    beautiful. theirs is the music of your soul. you hear, you embody, you sing and dance. and then, write it down in poetry for the world to be inspired and healed. thank you.

  7. Posted December 7, 2010 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    Your metaphors are so striking and memorable. Lovely post Lindsey and I can see why that is one of your favorite pics.

  8. Posted December 7, 2010 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

    And in our hearts they will always sing. How poignant this post my friend.

  9. Posted December 8, 2010 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

    And you are the drum, you are the strings. Sometimes “being played” is not at all the same as being taken for a ride, but then sometimes it is… in a good way.

  10. Posted December 10, 2010 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    Lindsay, I should know by now not to read your posts while at work. I made it to the last three paragraphs before my eyes welled with tears. The metaphor about your children being the music in your life is incredible. Absolutely beautiful.

  11. Posted December 13, 2010 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    “The Drum and the Descant”
    by Lindsey Mead Russell

    Whit, you are the drumbeat of my life, steady,
    underlying everything, a constant presence.
    Your humor and stubbornness,
    intractability and lovingness twine
    together into the rhythm to which my life is set.

    Grace, you are the soaring descant.
    Sometimes your notes are there, lifting me
    to the rafters with their beauty, sometimes
    not, their absence as keenly felt as their presence.
    A sound less steady, higher at its highs
    and lower at its lows.

    Together you two are creating every day
    the music of my life. The song
    that I, who is tone deaf and woefully unskilled
    at all things musical, hear in my head every single hour.
    The tune to which I walk, stumble, and dance.

  12. Posted April 11, 2013 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    Love this. Love it. Did I say that I loved it?

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