I am not sure which is worse, telling a singer she may not sing, or telling an Irish person she may not talk.
Telling an Irish singer she many not sing or talk is downright cruel and I do believe is illegal in my native land.
This scenario has been my reality though since late March.
Not only was I stricken with some odd issue of a swollen larynx, but bronchitis decided to crash the party as well, leaving me gasping for breath and unable to communicate in my normal fashion.
Now, almost June, I am able and allowed to speak again in low tones for limited amounts of time. When I try to release a singing note, while not supported, it is at least reminiscent of the voice I have known for so long.
It is definitely better than it was. Think Tom Waits, on a bad day, with an Irish accent. That was me.
I have learned a myriad of things about others and myself in the past two months.
For instance, I completely own the fact that I am indeed a bona fide writer.
How do I know this? I carried and carry around a pad of paper and pencil so I can join in conversations.
The trouble is, by the time I write my elaborate, grammatically correct and ‘engaging’ remarks, the conversation has shifted, and I am left with a paragraph of out-of-date retorts. This has proven how quickly subjects shift in human communication and how elaborately retentive I am as a writer.
This silence has shown me how animals don’t change conversations quickly at all. My dog came to me 20 minutes ago with a look of pleading.
“Please, Mary, can’t you see how hungry I am? Feed me, feed me something!”
I wrote her a long paragraph reminding her she was fed recently and how too much food would make her gain weight, and I even added an amusing anecdote about our cat.
As I look back to her now, she is still in the same conversation, saying, “Please, Mary, can’t you see how hungry I am?”
I like animals.
While I have always known how supportive my husband is, this test of silence has only deepened my love for him. He quips from time to time, when I get frustrated, that he kind of enjoys the silence.
What he does not understand, though, is that once I am back to running on all cylinders, I will be waking him up at 2 and 3 a.m. to tell him things I have been meaning to say for two months.
This silence has also deepened my love and amazement for my friends, family, fans and musical presenters. The outpouring of well wishes has been staggering (in a great way).
I have only once cancelled a show in my career due to illness; so cancelling shows and tours was an extremely difficult thing to do.
I am especially thankful to the supportive community in which I live, and the lovely person who wrote to the Comox Valley Record to wish me well (and they, for publishing it).
I feel truly loved, and that my friends is what this life is all about.
This silence has awakened my other senses in a big way. Is it not astounding to see, hear, taste, smell, and know the world?
Losing the ability to speak has been one of my life’s great teachings. I know that when next I am graced with a microphone for a performance, it will be a rebirth of myself in most humbling and delightful way.
This has been an utterly frightening time but the light is coming through at the end of the tunnel.
I am eager to take centre stage once again, but for now, since she is still pleading, I will go find a morsel for my verbally repetitive dog. In silence I trust. In silence I sing.
Mary Murphy is a singer, songwriter and author of extremely Irish descent and disposition. She lives with her husband Paul Keim in the Dove Creek area.