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Monday, 13 April 2009

The Violin Song

By Dani Ferguson of The Musings of a Middle Aged Woman

I grew up the youngest child and the only girl of four children. My brother David’s birth was three years prior to my own. He lived only a few hours, but his short life left a lasting impact on the family that so anxiously awaited his arrival.

My mother has said his death left a hole in her heart that has never been completely filled. Of course I never knew David but I have always thought of him. When I was young, I often made up stories about him and imagined him as my knight in shining armor. I even thought I knew just how he would have looked. Perhaps he was like an imaginary playmate, I’m not quite sure.

David was born on February 12, and when I was little I remember that every year on that day my parents became very somber and quiet. I sensed something very sad about what they were sharing and instinctively respected their privacy. It wasn’t until I was about seven years old that I really began to understand their need to privately grieve for their lost child and to remember him on a special day each year.

It was during the summer of my seventh year that I decided I wanted a baby brother or sister more than anything else in the world. One day, I made my wishes known to my parents and requested my wish be granted as soon as possible. Much to my dismay, I was informed that they had already had their last baby and that baby was I. It seemed there was no way to change their minds though I pleaded several times throughout the summer.

One morning, during the first week of summer, I was playing outside under the shade of our huge oak tree, when I noticed a moving van pulling into the driveway of the house across the street. Finding this interesting, I began to watch as furniture and miscellaneous items were removed and taken inside.

I curiously watched hoping to see signs that perhaps another little girl was moving into the neighborhood but nothing was produced that indicated it might belong to a child. I eventually realized that it was just a husband and wife with no sign of a pet let alone a child.

I forgot about the new neighbors until one evening just before dark. I was sitting on the curb in front of our house watching people and the occasional biker pass by when I began to hear the most beautiful sound. I couldn’t tell where it was coming from at first but slowly realized it was flowing from the house across the street.

I looked across the street and there in the window, behind sheer white curtains, I could see the shadow of the man as he stood in the living room. He was playing a violin and producing the sweetest music I had ever heard.

He seemed to be playing for his wife as she sat in a rocking chair with her legs curled beneath her. The scene appeared to be so private and personal I wasn’t sure if I should be listening and watching through the window but I was unable to look away. As darkness began to encircle me I suddenly heard my father’s voice calling me inside.

I never mentioned the music to anyone that summer, but every evening I would go back to the curb to listen and watch. I would carry one of the chairs to the little kitchen set I had received for Christmas the previous year. I would sit on the little chair at the edge of the curb directly facing the window across the street. Each evening the man would play while I pretended to be the only member of an exclusive audience.

As the first week of August approached, I overheard my mother telling my father that the couple across the street had just learned they were having a baby. The man and his wife were from Germany and had come to this country after the war. They had been married for many years and had longed for a family of their own.

My mother explained they had all but given up hope when they learned of this precious gift from God. I was thrilled with the news that there would be a baby on our street and could imagine myself as their personal baby sitter. I immediately began to hope it would be a girl.

The summer days progressed and were filled with games of kick-the-can and hide-n-seek. The private symphonies continued and yet still remained my secret. Then one day, I walked into my parent’s room to see my mother sitting on her bed softly crying. My father was seated beside her and there were tears in his eyes as well.

I timidly approached my mother and she pulled me close. She told me that the new neighbors were no longer going to have a baby. I asked why and she replied the baby had been born that morning but was not ready to live outside his mother’s body. Now the baby was in heaven being cared for by angels. I asked if these were the same angels that were taking care of my brother and she softly answered, “Yes, they are.”

Three days passed before I saw our neighbor’s car in their driveway again. That same evening, as the sun began to set, I took my chair and went to the curb. An orange glow illuminated the sky as the sun set in the far away distance. It was an especially quiet evening; only a slight breeze stirred the warm, humid air.

The sheer white curtains blew gently in the window across the street. A dim light silhouetted the couple. She was sitting in her rocking chair, looking fragile and small, while he stood at her feet and began to play. I sat in my little chair by the curb listening as tears filled my eyes. The music sounded like the sweet lullaby of an angel and I knew it was meant for the child they would never hold.

I was listening so intently I never saw my father come outside carrying the matching chair to my table. I was unaware of his presence until his hand gently took mine as he sat next to me, his knees nearly touching his chin. Not a word was spoken but long after the streetlights had begun to glow, we were there listening to the violin’s song.

[EDITORIAL NOTE: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Instructions for submitting are here.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Superb. Wonderfully written.
I cried at the last paragraph.

Thank you for sharing this. I too was moved to tears.


This is a lovely story,well told.

My heart was breaking, first for your parents who lost their son and then for your neighbors who also lost a precious child.

Absolutely lovely!! and expressed so gently...

Thank you for this beautiful and touching story.

Dani, a beautiful story--beautifully told.

What a poignant and lovely story. It is bittersweet, but told beautifully.

Poignant and touching. And what a gift for a child to understand so much, and be touched by the song of a violin.

What a lovely, lovely poignant story.
I too, was crying at the end.

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