How do you find meaning again in life after losing a loved one, especially a child? I had to learn the answer to that question the hard way after I lost my 20 year old son in a car accident in 2008. He was the youngest of my four children, and the absolute joy of my life. I’d just gone through a difficult divorce in 2006 (after being married for 28 years) and lost my dad three weeks before my son died. The death of my son was the “last straw” for me emotionally, physically, and mentally. I’d never written a song in my life, yet here I was, completely broken at 48 years old, and somehow, someway music filled my heart and my mind. Rather than finding relief through drugs or alcohol, I found that expressing myself through music eased my pain. This is the story of my new found musical journey.
I wrote my first song in September 2008, about a month after my son died, but it wasn’t until a year later, in September of 2009, that I went into a studio to record it professionally. All I did the year before I got into the studio was sing my songs out loud to my angel son in “a Capella” style, crying, crying, crying, and more crying (oh, how the endless tears filled my days and nights). I really had no idea what to do with my songs when I first began writing them because I don’t play an instrument. Then one day I saw a TV program that featured a recording studio not far from my home. The recording studio is owned and operated by Joe Merrick. The program interviewed Joe, describing how he handled all aspects of recording and mixing and everything else that goes along with creating a professional recording. In that instant, standing there in my living room, I knew what I needed to do. I immediately called Joe and left him a message. He called me back the next day. I told him how I’d lost my son in a car accident and that I had written some songs and wanted to record them and dedicate an album to him. He said, “Sure. Let’s get together and you can show me what songs you’d like to record.”
I went into the studio the following week, terrified and shaking. I would have to sing my songs out loud, in front of someone I didn’t even know. As I drove to the studio, I kept asking myself, “How the heck am I ever going to do this?” To be honest though, it didn’t really matter to me “how” I would get it done. I was on a mission to create a way to share my songs for my son so everyone would know him, and he wouldn’t be forgotten. It’s kind of like when you are in love with someone and you want to proclaim to the world your undying love. The love is so great and so deep you can’t contain it and you just want to shout out from the highest tree top, “I LOVE this person!!” I also thought that somehow, someway if I sang loud enough and beautiful enough it would be heard all the way to heaven and that my son would feel special and all the angels would be saying, “Look at how much Carmen is loved.” I wanted to make him feel special and loved. Being so far away from me in heaven, I think he misses being home. I hated the thought that he might miss me in heaven, and so I sang all the time to him as a way for he and I to stay connected.
I had no idea what to expect at the recording studio (how could I, I’d never done this before); however, what I lacked in confidence I made up for in determination and a sense of mission. I didn’t even know if my songs could even be recorded or that my voice was even good enough. But, I really wanted to do this for my son, to let him know how much I loved him. I wanted a living memorial dedicated to him and music was what I would use.
I’ll never forget the first time I met Joe Merrick (www.guiltydogstudios.com) in his studio. I was immediately put at ease by his friendly, gentle nature. He sat and listened quietly, and I closed my eyes and sang for my son a song I wrote called “I Can’t Believe You’re Gone”. It was the first song I wrote after he died. I started to cry. I opened my eyes and looked at Joe. He said calmly, “Mmmm, well, I think I know where you want to go with this.” Then he started to play his guitar to accompany the song. Then he added a drum and a few more instruments. The song is simple but perfect (well, it is to me anyway). This one song has already passed 50,000 hits on YouTube, so I guess other people like it too.
Over the course of the next four months we recorded seven more songs, which Joe tells me is a remarkable feat, especially considering the fact that I had no experience with recording a song (never mind a whole CD). Joe was the remarkable one though (to me) because he could listen to my songs and arrange the music so beautifully that I was often moved to tears at what was created in the studio. It meant life to me. Life for the memory of my son. I just knew I wanted to get the album done before my son’s 22nd birthday on January 29th, 2010. We finished the CD, and I titled it Whisper On the Wind , which is the title of one of the songs.
I created a YouTube channel after the first recording and made a video of that first song in October 2009. I wanted to broadcast to the world how much my son was loved and how much he meant to me and to everyone who knew him. Two years later, his video has surpassed 50,000 views, and at this point I think I can rest assured that my son will not be forgotten. His life lives on in all of my music, which is always dedicated to him. Our paths are forever joined, my son and I, not only because he is my son and I, his mother, but because we share this musical journey, one that now fills me with purpose and meaning. My music has become an extension of my son’s love for me, and as I walk this path without him in the physical world (a path which is often filled with loneliness and pain of missing him), I simply discover a new topic to write a song about and my heart is once again filled with joy and love and the energy of my beautiful angel son, my baby, Carmen. I would give my life if I could undo that car accident which took his life in 2008, but in the ashes of my grief I found my voice and a reason to go on.
You can listen to all my songs on my website, www.sharenwendy.com and on YouTube. All of my music is available on CdBaby & iTunes.