There is a sound a family makes that only its members can truly appreciate. The interplay of voices, footfalls, laughter, sobbing, shrieks of joy and frustration and anger, songs sung, catchphrases, the rattle and chirp of beloved toys played with, doors slamming, the rustling of clothing and whispers of breathing, running water and bath splashes and teeth brushed. The aural fabric of lives entwined. It forms a curtain around you, altering your perceptions of the world. It becomes the world.
You feel it, usually half-consciously, but if you stop and listen with purpose, you can actively hear it and savor it and know that the world is right, secure and content inside the cocoon it weaves. It’s not a symphony, it’s nothing so organized and artificial and remote as that, but sure, yes, call it a symphony, because words like “texture” and “landscape” are even more misleading.
And now a whole section has been silenced. Not simply resting, not waiting to rejoin the piece, but utterly removed from the stage. Vanished forever.
I cannot describe how utterly wrong that feels. Everything feels wrong, sounds wrong, every instinct is scraped on edge, screaming danger, because something has gone fundamentally, horribly wrong and I must fix it. And I can’t fix it. It can never be fixed, not by anyone. Someone is missing and will never be found, no matter how many times we look; can never be replaced, no matter what we might do to try.
There is a silent hole in the world, and the best I can ever hope to do is train my ear not to hear it, most of the time. Find a way to hear around the void and let what’s left fill my ears. If I am lucky and work very hard at it, I can learn to appreciate the symphony for what it is, and not constantly obsess over what it once was and should still be.