“Your heart knows the way. Run in that direction.” -Rumi
At 39, I finally had something to say.
This collection of original songs is being released today on the 1 year anniversary of my Dad’s passing – Ritualizing aspects of grief has felt healing.
I have no desire for personal gain from this outside of comfort and emotional connection with others, so 100% of any profits I receive from album sales during the first year of its release will go to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which grants bucket-list experiences for children with a critical illness.
Very few of us come out of this human experience unscathed.
Something unexpected happens that shifts the ground beneath us while everyone else carries on as usual.
But nothing feels ‘as usual.’
As time continues without a core member of our family, I’ve been working on seeing things as they are rather than how I wish they were.
Upon diagnosis, I genuinely thought Dad would beat this.
Feels a little presumptuous and naive in hindsight, but… ever the optimist.
The vulnerable Facebook posts that followed were unplanned although I was too emotionally drained to question what my heart was doing.
The album is organized within the 5 Stages of Grief®.
This wasn't thematically planned while writing the songs, but it acts as a "menu" of emotions for people to gravitate towards within various states.
Grief is not a linear experience, but it can be comforting to have a way of placing one's feelings.
Looking back to a year ago, I’m surprised by my confidence in sharing such raw emotions on Facebook and National television.
I DO know that without an outlet to release the emotions, I would feel more suffocated by the pain…
Haunted by the sight of witnessing the indignities that cancer unabashedly thrust upon my amazing Dad.
Something so many mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters are forced to endure.
And if we do it alone…
No. We can’t.
So… I share.
In an interview with Matthew McConaughey about his book, Greenlights, he said, “Sometimes you don’t need advice, you just need to know you’re not alone.”
There were days I wanted to hide myself in a box and stamp “handle with care” on the outside.
On those days I wrote.
Songs, thoughts… whatever was on my heart, some of which I’ve shared with you here.
What I’ve learned is that there isn’t a “right” way to grieve.
My hope in sharing my personal experience is that you’ll be inspired to hug your child tighter the day you read my post, or call your parents to connect. Or if you’re currently walking through an isolating valley of grief… that you’ll feel less alone.
Three very meaningful messages I’ve received, among many others:
“Wow, Vanessa! You touched so deeply a dormant part of me. I lost my dad at 28 to lung cancer over the course of 2.5 months. I sat with him, held his hand, and guided him through the process. The way you expressed your journey helped me access a part of myself that had been tucked away a long time ago. He was my rock by simply being there with me through whatever came my way. I can’t tell you what it means to me that you gave me a piece of my dad back that I had forgotten. After 24 years, things fade even with the best of intentions. So beautiful! What a gift you are! So grateful for you." –Christiana C.
"This song is so so beautiful, I listened 3 times. You have a voice that evokes so much emotion, I burst into tears the second time. That for me is the sign of a great song when you can connect so deeply. I hope you keep going... I want more." –Colette B.
"As a Dad, I feel the words about your dad very deeply. It's a constant promise to myself and to my boys that I will be the kind of dad whose memory someday will be cherished this much. Thank you because what you share created inspiration to be the very best living parent possible." –Barrett S.
Having this ‘passion project’ allowed me to feel some sense of control during a time when I otherwise didn’t have any.
During this experience of loss, I've received many gifts:
• Reintroduction to songwriting
• Enhanced empathy
• Proof that I can be equally sad AND happy.
• Vulnerability, which has led to incredibly meaningful emotional connections
Rumi said, “The wound is where light enters you.”
Honestly, I don't know how I feel about that statement in this particular situation, but as my Dad said after diagnosis... "It is what it is."
So... I'll allow in the light. This past year has felt so dark... Light would actually be really nice right about now.
THANK YOU for the time you’ve shared with me as you’ve read from my diary the last 12 months. Feeling blessed and grateful for your time and connection ❤️
Some people have asked how they can support the music:
1) It’s available for streaming on all listening platforms and can be purchased on iTunes & here on my site.
2) A physical CD can be ordered on my website
3) My personal preference for support, however, is simply to take the time to listen with your eyes closed and really FEEL my lyrics and melodies. Let my heart speak to your heart…. That would be the most amazing way to connect. 🏼