It’s been a year and a half. A year and a half of crying, meditating, breathing, and praying. A year and a half of learning, of adapting. It’s been full and messy and eye opening. And it has all happened without a soundtrack. Music told too many stories, evoked too many memories. I was already so tender and raw. I could not bear more illicit emotion. I did not want to waste tears on manufactured feelings. I was already drowning. Neither could I stomach the news or current events. I stopped running. I left my sneakers to collect dust at the back of a closet. Instead, I listened to my body. I rested. I devoured books, lectures, documentaries. I sought refuge in my own written words. I kept busy. I spent an entire year busy. It was easier to manage the ache when distracted. And you sent me a pandemic! A perfect excuse to focus outside. Maybe you knew it would actually make things easier somehow. Or maybe the opposite. Maybe the crisis has promised that I remain open long enough to heal. A spectacular opportunity for resilience to bloom. But still, I didn’t listen to music. Maybe a song here or there. I indulged my children, my husband. But when alone, I chose silence. Until I couldn’t anymore. And I began to let the outside in. Ever so slowly. Instead of turning it off, I am practicing compassion when I listen to the news. I don’t always change the station, on the radio or in my head. Gently, I let my heart be tugged by a melody, or two. And just recently, the whispers of jazz have begun filtering into my evenings and lazy Sunday afternoons. And sometimes it doesn’t make me cry. I can remember without quite so much ache. I can listen and be still. I am letting the world around me become still as well. Softening in, like the snow. Settling. Breathing. Finally, exhaling.