You had gone. I had finally cleared out your things. There were trips to second-hand shops and charity shops. A small number of random mementos remained, yours not mine. These were the precious things, the sentimental things. I put them in a box not knowing what to do with them.
I was at the computer, randomly filing stuff when I found them. I didn’t use Windows Media Player, but apparently you did. There were two songs in a file with my name on them. I opened it. At the title of the first one, I could already feel the emotions welling up, the first trickle of the first tear. I didn’t listen to it. I had already seen the second one. I sat staring at the title as the tears streamed down my face. I knew exactly what this song meant.
You were a teenage boy, grieving, alone, existing in a world of pain. The only adults around you were too caught up in their own grief to even notice yours. You were a boy grieving his father and the way his life had ended, not knowing what to do with the weight of that helplessness and pain. It was long before I ever knew you. This was the song you listened to then.
This was the song you had chosen for me.
You had always used music to talk to me and as therapy for yourself. You sang at the top of your voice, just off-key, like no one was listening. But I was.
But this song, this song …
I rubbed salt into the wound and clicked play. I let it wash over me. I understood everything you wanted to tell me, even as the tears, the grief, and the anger flooded through me.
Everyone has a playlist of pain, the songs that bring the sometimes forgotten, partly processed pieces of our past to come rushing to the surface, raw, to be felt again. This is the playlist we never listen to. This contains the songs we cannot listen to.
This was the song you chose for me.
Stereo Story #623