All his life there was music. He sang along with his mother to country songs on the radio when he was little. He didn’t know the words but he raised his voice alongside hers because he loved her. It made her happy, and that made him happy as well. He sang mostly at his family’s church. The choir, being mostly older people, appreciated a younger member who could handle the tenor parts. Most of the men were of the bass persuasion and there are always too many sopranos.
As he grew, so did the quality of his voice. Even though his tastes had changed from country and church hymns to rock, his voice maintained that choirboy quality. People told him he had a “gift” and a “talent”. He just liked to sing.
Actually, he loved to sing.
Music was never far from him, it filled his mind. If the radio was on, even if it was a song he didn’t know, he sang along. Just to sing. Just to raise his voice as he always had. He never felt more….complete, than when a note was held just right.
He challenged himself constantly to improve but he didn’t take lessons. He bought cds of singers he liked and emulated them. He began to harmonize with them, testing how high he could push his range and still sound like that choirboy. Sometimes, he impressed even himself, but then the voice would crack, and he knew it was a one-time thing.
There were times in his life when he felt like God had blessed him and then there were times when he wished he didn’t have that particular blessing. Like God was keeping the things he wanted at bay so the voice would remain intact. He tried to destroy it a couple of times, by smoking, screaming, whatever means he could think of short of drinking acid. But the throat would always heal.
Like it had a purpose.
But damned if he knew what that purpose was. He tried to bargain with God.
“Take it. Give me what I want. You can have this gift back, I don’t want it, I want the other thing.”
God, in His wisdom, didn’t answer.
Years passed and he sang his heart out in his car to and from work. “What a waste”, he would think to himself if he had a good session of singing. He began to wonder what the hell was the gift for if it wasn’t going to make him famous or wealthy. It just seemed all so…pointless.
One day, he got the phone call he had been dreading for years.
As he entered the small room and saw his mother laying on the bed, he felt helpless. So helpless. What family had come was gathered around the room and watched him cross to the bed. The tears from his eyes flowed freely at the thought of this cornerstone of his life leaving him. She was in pain, he knew it. He could see it in her eyes. Her lips trembled with it.
He sat on the edge of her bed and gently took the hand that had raised him, punished him, and loved him throughout his life. Then he knew.
He knew why he had the gift.
Softly, he sang to his mother the old hymns in the choirboy voice that he had been blessed with. All his life had led to this one moment. He realized then, there are no mistakes, no meaningless things. Everything matters to someone.
So, he sang.
He sang every song he knew by heart to her. Her hand, frail but still strong, gripped his. And she smiled.
Then the pain was gone.