Caleb + Kelsey are a dynamic singing duo. A wife and husband team, they use their God-given talents to cover both secular and Christian songs.
Their music is beautiful. I first discovered them when a video of their immaculate mash-up of “Oceans” and “You Make Me Brave” popped up in my Facebook Newsfeed. These are two songs to which I’ve particularly clung both during Sylvia’s life and in the aftermath of her loss.
It only took a few seconds into the song and I was so thankful for the Spirit’s inspiration given to them to share their love for music in this form.
There are so many songs that mean more to me as a grieving mother than they ever did before. I have found songs I’ve known for years and to which I’d never give much thought have now taken on a brand new meaning. As I frequently put it, “they’ve become about Sylvia.”
One song I never thought would hold such deep meaning for me is Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On.”
Before Sylvia, those first few, instantly recognizable notes would evoke images of icebergs, a gaudy diamond, and Rose and Jack clinging to to the door of a wardrobe.
But then I heard it for the first time as a grieving mother.
It came on automatically one day while listening to Caleb + Kelsey’s Spotify channel. I was on my way to therapy, without the kids, and blaring their music as loudly as I could, both in praise to the Lord and also as a sort of “screw you” to Satan because he always likes to mess with me on my way to get the help I need.
My instinct was to skip to the next song because I wasn’t really in the mood for an internal Titanic montage, but something stopped me.
And before I knew it, I was parked on the side of I-75, bawling, listening to a song that I never thought would affect me emotionally, and all of the sudden it became so much more than a 90s throwback:
It became Evan and me talking to Sylvia.
Below, through tears and gasps for air and anger and jealousy and confusion, I have broken down the lyrics and shared the internal “conversation” I have with her whenever this song comes on the radio or into my heart.
I encourage you to listen and/or watch Caleb + Kelsey’s rendition of the song that changed it for me forever:
I’m going to be honest. This is one of the more difficult pieces I’ve shared about my daughter. It is incredibly intimate and exposes a gaping wound that I think some people (ignorantly) believe “should be healed by now”.
But that’s not how grief works.
And that’s certainly not how parenting works.
I write these pieces for myself, but I share them for her, to keep making Sylvia footprints on the earth, and to allow her to keep impacting the lives of others.
Every night in my dreams, I see you, I feel you That is how I know you, go on
There are few dreams I have without you in them. When you’re there, it is usually in a hospital bed and, as difficult it is to “see” you back in those circumstances, I have a renewed sense of hope.
Then I wake up. And I’m reminded.
And I lose you all over again.
Every night. Every. Single. Night…I close my eyes both terrified I will dream of you, and terrified that I won’t.
Far across the distance, And spaces between us, You have come to show you, go on
There are days when the weight of the physical distance between us is so heavy on my heart that I hardly know how to put one foot in front of the other.
Every purple sunrise and sunset. Every purple flower, sprinkle, or balloon that were unplanned, yet perfectly presented at the right place and at the right time, they stop me in my tracks.
No one knows exactly how it all works except the Creator. Heaven is a party, free from pain and sadness, so I believe you are free from the bondage of the ways of the world. As much as it hurts sometimes, I know you must not see me. How could you witness the depth of my grief and still be free from sadness? I do believe you are excited to see me again, and that while you wait, our God, our Father, loves us both and may intentionally send me little reminders of your current state of bliss and the beauty of our reunion to come.
Near, far, wherever you are, I believe that the heart does go on
I know exactly where you are.
And because I know that, I know that your heart DOES go on, and not the heart that was born from sin, ridden with an illness that would take you from me–but the heart of a saint, washed clean by the blood of Christ, that waits eagerly with Him for me to get Home.
Once more you open the door, And you’re here in my heart and my heart will go on and on
You are present to us, Sylvia. You are not a “was”; you ARE.
You ARE our daughter.
You ARE desperately loved.
You ARE profoundly missed.
You ARE here in my heart.
And that will never change.
Love can touch us one time, And last for a lifetime, And never let go till we’re gone
Your earthly life was short, but there is nothing about the love of a parent that needs a “warm up” period. Parents don’t slowly “fall” in love with their children–at least we didn’t.
You had every nook and cranny of our hearts in an instant.
The amount of time you were here is irrelevant. Even though we did not get your lifetime with you this side of heaven, you, my sweet girl, have ours. We will never go a day without loving and missing you.
Love was when I loved you, One true time I hold to, In my life we’ll always go on
Because of you, your daddy and I had and continue to have the honor of experiencing one of truest and most intense forms of love of which human hearts are capable.
The fight to save you triggered a part of our hearts we otherwise may not have known. I hate that we did not succeed in keeping you here with us, and I wish every second you were here, but you gave us the closest experience of Christ-like love we could ever have in this world.
You have forever altered our perspective on what it means to love and have single-handedly affected the way we approach our relationships with others.
You’re here, there’s nothing I fear, And I know that my heart will go on
The only solace I have is that you are Home, you are free from pain, and I will be there with you. I dread forever without you, but I don’t have to fear eternity without you.
I’ll see you there.
We’ll stay forever this way, You are safe in my heart and my heart will go on and on
Despite the time between us, my love for you will never lessen. You are forever apart of me. And even though the rest of the world keeps spinning, mine stopped the moment you stopped breathing.
My heart is the safest place you could ever be, because it will never, ever give up on you, on your memory, on your legacy.
On the days I wonder if anyone else remembers to say your name, my heart is shouts it.
And while this world, full of Satan’s antics and sadness and pain, tries its very best to make me focus only on the hole your passing has left, I know that you, and all the beauty you were and all the memories we made together, are safe there.
Because I will fight just as hard for you in my heart as I did while you were in my arms.
I’m thankful for this version of the song. It is one that most hear as a husband and wife, but I hear it as a mom and a dad.
As my husband and myself.
There are so many things I wish I could tell her, and even though words are usually what I’m good at, sometimes they get stuck. I am so grateful when my tears are louder than my voice, I have found comfort in the artistry of someone else.
I miss you, Sylvia. I love you always.