Photo by Adismara Putri Pradiri on Unsplash

Listen

Imagine that you have a bucket list of the last things you want to hear in your lifetime. Not places you want to go, or things you want to do, but things you want to hear.

What sounds would you want to hear – and more importantly, truly listen to? How would those sounds enrich your memories of those specific moments in time?

Active listening is integral to our emotional connection with our experiences. Listening memories can be formed purely on the sound of a voice – whether it captures confidence, love, humor, or fear with softness or volume. We are also surrounded by incidental sounds of life; the sweet sound of a summer breeze, the morning wake-up call of the kettle sounding readiness for coffee or tea, the ringtone on your phone signaling an identifiable friend or loved one. Sounds fluctuate and blend together to communicate with us constantly, creating memories that are melodic without intention. I believe we are all musical beings, but often without realizing we have a sense of music.

For me, life with no sound is almost undefinable, a place of frustration and emptiness. A spacewalk that allows you to see the world but prevents you from truly being a part of it. But there are people faced with a life without sound every day. And their stories highlight the importance of appreciating the sounds around us while we still can.

I was moved by two such stories recently – those of Kylie Webb and Matt Hay.

I share a connection with both Kylie and Matt. As my own hearing naturally degrades with age, what I find myself wanting to remember most about my heaven travelin’ husband, best friend, love of my life, and soulmate isn’t what I see in the photos I have of him. It’s the sound memories of him I never want to lose. His vibrant voice, which still says “leave a message after the beep” on my very dated answering machine. His joyful tone saying “I Love My Wife” as I came through the door after a girls night out. And the Tom Waits song he played me when we first met: “I Hope That I Don’t Fall in Love With You.” (Lucky for me, he did.)

I will hear the sound of his voice and his laugh, and feel his emotions through the music he loved and the cherished words he spoke, for the remainder of my life.

Sound is so intimate, so important. And the ability to hear only exists until the mechanics are compromised. Without listening to memory we are deaf even though we can still hear. Kylie and Matt’s stories are a powerful reminder to listen with intention and for as long as we can.

Nikki Waldron
Wife always of Co-Founder of Neurotone, Inc., Gerry Kearby
Widow only when I quit listening to my memories

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