Songs in Silence

Songs in Silence

When you share a special activity with someone close and all of the sudden they are gone, it can feel impossible to continue without them.


The worn ivory keys thudded under the pressure of my fingertips, but I heard no sound. My muscle memory slipped into the opening of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata. The dusty air around me swelled with the melancholy notes, or at least that is how my brother described the piece to me.

* * * *

"The song is as if you awoke in the middle of the night," he said, plucking the sheet music out of his satchel bag and placing it on the music stand. "It's dark and quiet and you're alone."

"So it's a dark piece?" I interrupted.

"Yes, but not dark like blackness. It's more like the deep blue sky studded with constellations."

He stood in front of the pulpit like a reverend addressing an adoring congregation.

"The darkness is there, without a doubt. However, flecks of light freckle the sky, shining through the thicket of darkness."

My eyes hung on his lanky form, following every arch and swoop of his calloused hands. He plopped himself onto the ragged bench I resided on; his elbows brushing against mine. His fingers pecked out the melody with swift precision. My eyes studied his every movement, wide intaking every stroke. He lifted his hands, signaling the conclusion of the demonstration. My eyes fell on the page of complex measures as my hands hover over the first position in hesitation.

"Relax, Bug," he told me with a warm smile. "Just let the music flow."

I sighed a small breath and fumbled out the bassline with meager precision.

* * * *

I blink the misty memory away and recoil from the piano. It feels wrong. The solitude of the hollow church sends prickling spikes through my body. My heart rattles against my rib cage and each breath grows laborsome.

I sit in this House of God, but He is not home. The empty silence which shadows my existence, gaping oblivion swallowing my mind. My drowning lungs burn for the breath of fresh air the world referred to as Matthew. The women in my building pray for the swift hand of God, but I yearn for the soothing touch of Matthew's palm on my shoulder. But never again will I feel his tender touch. Never again will I see him.

A hand taps my shoulder lightly. I jolt back into the painful reality surrounding me. It is only when I look up at the Father clad in black robes I become aware of the streams of salty sadness flowing down my cheeks. His thin lips move with concern, but my sight is too fuzzy to comprehend his concern.

His weathered lip contour with every syllable, expressing worry for his Godly child just as my parents have done. Life seems to go this way. All worry laser-focused on my deficit, so the remaining world fades into a chaotic unkempt background.

I push my balled fists into the aged foam bench, shoving myself upright. Through the subtle vibration of the wooden floorboards I know the bench has clattered to its side with a theatrical thump.

I will my trembling legs to swiftly carry my hollow vessel down the stained red carpet. I heave open the tall arched door and force myself out into the crisp November air. I nestle myself behind the wooden manger the church displays every Christmas.

I choke on lost words never spoken as a sob escapes from my throat. I pull my knees close to my chest and wrap my arms around my broken body; my head hangs in my lap, weighed down by the memory of my brother.

Matthew is the oldest of five children. Correction: he was the oldest of five children. After him followed me by four years and then eight years later the triplets were born. Our three-story Victorian-style home felt less like the expansive palace from Matthew and I's childhood fantasies and more like the quaint cottage, the Seven Dwarfs cohabited. Space we once took for granted became the root of conflict, so Mom proposed Matthew's sizable room to become a nursery for the triplets and he moves into the attic.

"It'll feel like your own apartment," I remember Mom saying, "Plus, you won't hear the triplets cry."

I watched the interaction while quietly spooning cereal into my mouth. I willed through vain attempts at telepathy for Matthew migrate from the bedroom beside mine, sharing a thin cream colored wall. The wall which provided my solice during the waning darkness when frightful fantasies cascaded across my consciousness. Those nights, I awake with primal fear coursing through my veins which could only be subsided knowing my brave big brother lay just on the other side of sheetrock. Not being one to protest, Matthew nodded with sympathetic understanding, leaving me to weather the darkness solo.

In the weekend following, Matthew's former poster-clad walls resolved to a mellow shade of green. Where shelves of thick dusty tomes laid at rest, were occupied by a handmade wooden toy chest bursting with trucks and building blocks.

His presence seldom graced the main living spaces of our cozy abode. Our family only complete as we congregated around the grand and out of place dining table for Sunday, but even then his face held a distant disposition.

It was only after Sunday mass when the adults congregated over light refreshments in the atrium I actually spent one on one time with my big brother. We'd sit shoulder to shoulder on the bench where I sat trembling moments ago. He'd place his hand on top of mine and guide my fingers into the opening of another beautiful melody.

I think back to the last Sunday we shared together in the morning before he died. I found myself so entangled in the sonata I finally mastered, I didn't notice when Matthew's attention no longer belonged to me. Only in the aftermath do I understand why his shoulders tensed and his eyes read of bewilderment.

"Your playing gets lovelier each week," praised the heavenly Father.

* * * * *

Another round of tears brim in the corners of my eyes. I was so focused on reading the ancient priest's lips I failed to read the obvious situation in front of me. Only now as I replay my last memories of my big brother do I understand. Only now do I see the silent pain and despair painted on his freckled face as he gently swung back and forth from the crossbeam in the attic.

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The End Of The Semester As Told By Todd Chrisley

Because we're all a little dramatic like Todd sometimes.

The last 3-4 weeks of every college student's semester are always crazy hectic.

We have last minute assignments, group projects, and exams all squeezed into the last few weeks before break.

Sometimes we all need a little humor, and sometimes we are all a little dramatic, so why not experience the last few weeks of the semester as told by the king of drama himself, Todd Chrisley of "Chrisley Knows Best."

1. Sitting in class listening to your professor explain upcoming assignments/exams.

2. When your group project members refuse to do anything until the night before it's due or just show up the day of to present.

3. When you and your roommate try to cook with whatever few ingredients you have left in stock.

Because we definitely want to avoid going to the grocery store at the end of the semester if we can.

4. When your parents get tired of you calling them about every little inconvenience in your life.

5. Sitting down to work on assignments.

6. Your thoughts when the professor is telling you what they want from you out of an assignment.

7. When you've had about 30 mental breakdowns in two days.

8. Trying to search out the class for the right group members.

9. The last few days of classes where everyone and everything is getting on your nerves.

10. When your friend suggests going out but you're just done with the world.

11. This. On the daily.

12. When all you want to do is snuggle up and watch Christmas movies.

13. Studying and realizing you know nothing.

14. When your finals are over and it's finally time to go home for break.

You're finally back to your old self.

Cover Image Credit: Instagram

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5 Things To Think About During Trans Week Of Visibility

You should always think of your trans friends, but especially during this week.


Trans week of visibility is March 25 through March 31, these are the five things you should keep in mind during those days (and at all times).

1. Using The Correct Pronouns Are Extremely Important

If you do not know which pronouns to use, just ask. When talking to a trans person do not assume their pronouns, hell- don't assume a cisgender persons pronouns it is always better to ask someones pronouns when you first start talking to them. Using the correct pronouns is a major step in accepting trans people and it makes us feel so much more accepted, loved, and respected. It isn't that hard to do, so just ask.

2. Dead Names Are Dead For A Reason

If you know a trans persons dead name, DO NOT SHARE IT WITH OTHERS. It is dead for a reason. When trans people change their name (or pronouns) it is to reflect how they truly feel on the inside and show it to the outside world. This is something that is personal and should not be shared with anyone. Deadnaming a trans person is violent. Once a trans person has told you "Hey, I go by this name now", use that new name. Embrace it, love it, accept it, move on.

3. Never Ask What Genitals Trans People Have Or Which Bathroom They Use

First off, this is none of your business and why do you want to know? This is very private information and unless you're a doctor performing surgery or a doctor treating a patient you do not need to know what genitals a person has. Nobody needs to know which bathroom a person uses. That's all I have to say about this. Just don't do either of these things.

4. The World Isn't That Safe For Us, So Please Try To Make It Safer

Most of us are afraid to come out, even if you have been by our side no matter what or you have made comments that you would support us if we were trans. We are terrified because we know what the world is like for trans people. We see that the world we live in is a scary place for minorities and we are one of them. Being trans isn't easy, but coming out is one of the most freeing feelings in the world because you finally get to let the world in on who you truly are. It's all a scary process. If we come out to you, or even if we don't- just try to make the world safer for trans people. It's our cisgender allies that make the world safer for us. Without you all there is no change.

5. Love Us, Respect Us, Support Us

That's all we ask.

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