I lost my voice. Not my head. Thank God for that.
Last week I flew to the Hudson River Valley of New York to move my 79 year old father out of his falling-apart house with the upside-down mortgage, rotting porch, toxic air... Unfit for human habitation... and it took not only my breath away, but my voice, too.
Maybe it fell through the floor in the decrepit barn, full of my father's artwork that he left to the elements, crafted with love, entombed by depression, sentenced to death and decomposition.
Perhaps it is hidden in the stacks of LP's that are full of voices, sounds, symphony, and melody that are encrusted with dust and silenced forever; part of the piles that may bring the house down in the eventual applause of thunderous bulldozers.
It was reciprocated by a mute cat who came to visit while I packed. A silent echo in black and white who never made a peep but showed genuine affection and was the brightest, cleanest spot in the middle of the malodorous misery. We began a quiet friendship that needed no words.
There is a good chance I packed it away. The whole experience truly left me speechless most of the time. If I'm lucky it will show up in Seattle when the moving container arrives in a couple of weeks. My voice may be back stronger than ever. Full of stories to tell.
In the meantime, I'm drinking a lot of hot tea, sounding like a frog, and listening. Mostly listening. The voices in my head are speaking. They are telling me stories. They are taking in and processing all the sadness and neglect that they witnessed and they are trying to comprehend what happens when you give up in all senses of the word.
Yet even in all that filth and desolation there was still love. It was represented by a dirty rug on the nasty floor where I had to sleep on an air mattress. It was also the reason I was there. The house wasn't loved and it showed for it. My father needed love and he was going to go the way of the house, unfortunately faster.
Now we are both in Seattle healing. I sure wish I could find my voice, though. By tomorrow. I'm speaking in a writer's conference. Maybe I'll find it there.