The sound of Nature’s lullabies made her feel like a child again

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She
wondered where she got the idea the sound of Nature’s lullabies could be
something soothing, as opposed to a noise that only made her feel like
scraps. She had always associated the word Nature with a particular type
of childhood memory, a comforting one; she couldn’t imagine why that could be.
The memory wasn’t of a specific location or time, like a certain night or a
certain day, it was just one where she had been happy. Sometimes it had
happened at her grandparents’ house, sometimes it was the beach. There were
many memories that made her laugh, but one of them wasn’t so funny. That one
had been one of the many nights when she had just been alone and she wanted
to be alone again. That was that memory, where she had sat on the edge of
her bed and stared at the wall instead of feeling any urge to open the
drawer under the bed, or sit on the edge of the couch and stare at something
she wasn’t allowed to touch. She heard her mother’s soft whispers and
realised as she played her imaginary animals in her headphones, how they
would be the soft words of her parents that would comfort her, even if they
were the ones that she heard herself say. Her mother would never play
piano to her again, she would be a singer. She had seen music used as a way
to help people with disabilities, but she would be the very definition of a
disability until she could walk upright. At least her mother would always make
her sing.

The
only thing missing would be her father, but she knew he would listen to her
voice instead. Even if he couldn’t sing her lullabies, he still taught her
about how to write songs, even though she hardly used words. She found
songs a lot easier to sing and enjoy than piano. When she was a child the
only reason she had never learned how to write songs was because she’d had to
learn to play the piano because if she had she wouldn’t have needed to play
it.

Music
was something to be shared with others, but she heard her mother on her
confections table now and thought how her father would be able to hear her
voice playing music and the words, even if he couldn’t make out the
instrumentals. She heard her mother sing a lullaby once when she was a little
girl, but it wasn’t the sweet words she remembered. The song was loud and
full of passion, but her mother’s voice was soft and beautiful. ‘There’s
only two things in this world that never change; death and love.’ The words
brought back the same feelings she’d had when she was seven, and she smiled
to herself. She couldn’t imagine a world that would be perfect, but a world
that wasn’t too different was better than this one. In her mind’s eye she
could see the two of them together, her parents and a thousand different
sunsets, all of them happy. She thought about her other children, that
grandson she had, and all the different children she’d have with her
different husbands. She realised now she couldn’t even imagine a life
without the children. It had been a long time since she thought about her
children’s children.

She
hadn’t realised how much she had been grieving for her father until she came
to the realisation that she had always loved her father. Her mother had
always loved him, too; it was a hard thing to realise. When she thought of
how much she loved her father, she felt at peace; if her father were alive
he wouldn’t have any worries. He would be doing exactly what he said he
would do, which was to take care of his family. She remembered her
grandmother telling her how he hadn’t had to work since he was in his
thirties. ‘I don’t see why anyone would ever choose work over love.’
And he had, Antonia had always told her, but he had chosen work, every
time, and if she hadn’t known what she was talking about, she would never
have guessed. He didn’t get any special treatment, no special pay, or
accreditation just for working, he had just worked. He gave his children
what he had to and loved them, all of them. Antonia had never understood
why he hadn’t married and had children. As a child Antonia had always
played with her dolls, but she had never made a doll for a man to play with
who was supposed to be a man.

Thea
wondered why her father had never made a doll for her, and was about to
play with the imaginary animal she had created when Thea’s sister called
out in frustration, ‘It’s not funny!’
She looked away from the imaginary animal she’d created to her sister’s
face, ‘It’s not funny,’ Thea repeated, ‘but I can’t help it.’ She had to
find other ways to remember her father’s love. Maybe she already had.

Thea
looked deep into the imaginary animal she had crafted, ‘I think of him all
the time, whether he’s alive or dead, I just never get him back. I
can’t see it, but whenever I close my eyes I see his face. Whenever I
wake up, I see his face… and sometimes I start to wonder how I see his face
anyway.’ Thea imagined her father as a tiny little pink bird, the size of
a real bird, who lived in her head, and when she thought she saw him she
imagined he was singing her favourite song, or she could hear the sound of
his voice. His face looked softer and sweeter, but was always worried. She
couldn’t remember his smile. Maybe it was her imagination, but she
thought about her father now and her eyes filled up with tears as she
thought of how much she loved him. She looked into the imaginary animal she
had created again and imagined a bird’s life, how it would fly and live
in a big tree, a family of birds who would all have their own homes and
talk to each other. Her father’s face was still there, just not the smile
he used to have.

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