• Essays

    looping music


    I deleted my Spotify account earlier this year. I cried afterwards.

    The crying was mostly because of my brother Zach.

    After he died in 2021 and we started going through his things, my sister Elisabeth found his private Spotify account logged in on his computer. She made it so his account was following both my and her accounts, to create a new link of connection between us, albeit posthumously.

    It made me happy to have this new insight into his world. I scoured every inch of his playlists, looking for any songs or bands we had in common. I smiled when I saw his “ari” playlist, thinking back on all the times I overheard him singing along to Ariana Grande behind his closed bedroom door (he also loved Taylor Swift). I melted when I saw the Lord of the Rings audiobook playlist, because as a kid he would always fall asleep listening to that exact same audio series—except back then it was a wooden boxed set of CDs and a little CD player he kept by his bed.

    That CD player and boxed set are still in his closet right now.

    I wanted to lose myself in Zach’s playlists, to close my eyes and imagine he was here, but I didn’t really feel a connection to any of his music, even though some of the playlists brought me detached nostalgia. What I really wanted was something we had in common. But I didn’t even know most of his music.

    The difference between my sister and me is that she took all this new information we discovered about him and saw it as an opportunity to get to know him better, while I wanted to find connections between us that had already been there before he died. Just different ways of grieving.

    The only song I found in all of his playlists that I truly resonated with was “Heat Waves” by Glass Animals. Zach had it in a playlist called “loop.” I, too, used to loop that song.

    I listened to it on repeat all of summer 2020, when I moved from California back in with my parents in Nevada. I was furious that my life in California had fallen apart, and the way that I processed anger at the time was to go on a run. But it was blazing hot in Nevada, so I would wait until at least midnight to start running, returning home at 2 or 3 in the morning.

    And that song “Heat Waves” was constantly on loop while I ran, because that song felt like nostalgia and heartbreak and lost things and the inability to say goodbye. It felt the way I felt.

    I was desperate for my life back in California, but utterly heartbroken by the way life there had chewed me up and spit me out during the first half of 2020. It was a weird mix of wanting to go back, but knowing I never could. I felt like such a failure.

    Glass Animals said that “Heat Waves” was about realising it’s ok to be defeated by something.”

    They continue: “we are often expected to ‘be strong’ and to swallow our sadness. failing to do that is seen as weakness. so we try to cover up our feelings and hide inside of TV shows or video games or drink or drugs. but being vulnerable should be a positive thing.”

    I’ve felt defeated many times in my life, but 2020 was perhaps the first time where I felt truly powerless.

    Alongside the excavation of life as we all knew it in 2020, I also lived through multiple implosions of my own life. I kept losing my footing. Instead of just being repeatedly knocked down, yet able to stand back up again, I felt like I was trapped in an avalanche.

    Among other things, during lockdown in 2020, I also dealt with suicidal depression, being quarantined with my narcissistic roommate, and having literally no income which brought debt and food insecurity into my life.

    Later in 2021, while holing up at my parents house and trying to recover, the avalanche was replaced with a painful volcanic explosion.

    I learned I was autistic, which toppled the foundation of my existence. One of my best friends was run over by a semi truck and became a quadriplegic.

    And my sweet brother lost his life.

    I’m not in a constant state of “feeling defeated,” even after experiencing trauma and pain and loss. I get back up because I want to keep going and keep exploring life, because I feel like my life has a purpose for existing.

    But within cycles of falling down and getting back up comes increased levels of vulnerability.

    Layers of myself have sloughed off, masks and forcefields and naivety and blindness. All this shedding is good, because I’m becoming a better version of myself. But still. It all makes me feel more sensitive. Trauma is noisy and the world is noisy and it all makes my head feel noisy.

    In summer 2020, in the middle of all this defeat, looping songs that talked about this pain felt necessary, because I felt too lonely to just stay inside my own head and my own feelings. I desperately needed to know that I wasn’t alone.

    But three years later, I’m feeling emotionally stronger, yet weirdly more sensitive. I feel happier inside my head, but also craving more peace in the world. Which is making me feel like I just don’t have the bandwidth anymore for very much music consumption.


    She tried to concentrate on the sound, but music had always unmoored her, and her thoughts drifted.

    —Emily St. John Mandel, Station Eleven • (bookshop + amazon)


    I know there are artists who like music in the background when they work; they use the music to block out everything else. They’re not listening to it; it’s there as a form of companionship. I don’t need a soundtrack to accompany my life. Music in the background nibbles away at your awareness. It’s comforting, perhaps, but who said tapping into your awareness was supposed to be comfortable? And who knows how much of your brainpower and intuition the music is draining?

    —Twyla Tharp, The Creative Habit • (bookshop + amazon)


    I admitted to my boyfriend Ethan several months ago, slightly embarrassed, that I haven’t had the urge to go to any concerts since the world opened back up. Surprisingly, he actually reciprocated that confession.

    I wonder if the only concert we’ll ever go to together is the one we went to years before we met. An alt-J concert here in Las Vegas, in 2018. What a wild moment it was to figure out that we had been in the same room together, though in profoundly different worlds.

    Somehow four years later, the threads of resonance pulled us together. Somehow we ended up in the same climbing gym, on the same bouldering team, on the same frequency.

    We’ve been together for ten months now, but I knew before our first date that he was my one.

    I’m not actually planning to never go out to a concert again. I’m sure Ethan and I will go to a concert together one of these days. But as I get older and feel a little more stable in life, the way that I want to listen to music at home has changed.

    I used Spotify pretty much exclusively as my way to listen to music over the past ten years. It started off just as an exciting way to have access to whatever I wanted to listen to. Then it began morphing into a way to collect memories, especially after I went to bible college in 2014.

    Spotify was the absolute shit at bible college. All my friends followed each other’s accounts and discovered what each person was listening to. We would make playlists based on memories or vibes or the semester’s theme (#lighthasdawned) or our favorite locations (rock tree or the lookout or ofc). My college ex devoted lots of time to make “banger” playlists for him and his fellow campus servers to have good vibes as they set up the dining room for retreats or conferences. I worked in the AV department and compiled songs that would sound really epic on the speakers all over campus, on the days that I had to test the sound systems. We both loved Twenty One Pilots, and the summer of 2015 we unintentionally spread TØP love throughout the entire campus, thanks to our respective jobs and access to aux cords. Everyone was singing “Stressed Out” that summer.

    Playlists were a way to capture a certain vibe, but also to pin down a memory or a feeling. A collection of songs that could accurately collage an experience. Like a musical scrapbook. Even after each semester or season in life came to an end, a playlist made during that time could bring me back, a rush of nostalgia and longing.

    But this playlist building practice felt soured after 2020. I, of course, made massive playlists when I lived in California in 2019 and 2020. My music taste was completely overhauled thanks to my roommates, and I began listening primarily to old school rap, reggaetón, and my now favorite band, Khruangbin. It was total beach vibes there, marijuana plants, surfboards, hammocks, backyard chickens, lemon trees, film cameras, ukuleles, yoga mats, ping-pong table, modelos, shroom smoothies.

    When that life ended, I listened to my California playlists endlessly, obsessively. Hiding in the past, hating the present, not at all hopeful about the future. Just truly embodying the concept of “the best days are behind me.” My intentionally built dream life was over and I was stuck living a life I didn’t want. What was there to look forward to?

    Not surprisingly, there was plenty to look forward to. I started healing from my pain and grief and trauma, as self-help girlies are wont to do, and my life slowly opened up again. I began fulfilling long held dreams of mine like finally getting to rock climb whenever I fucking want and being in an amazing stable loving relationship for the first time.

    The more my life opened up, the more stale these old playlists seemed. I felt tired whenever I listened to them. And I don’t think it was because I just overplayed them, but because of the state of mind I had been in when I obsessively listened to them. I had been so isolated in my head, so lonely, I thought there was nothing more to look forward to in life, and I only wanted to revisit feelings and memories of the past.

    Now that I’m healthy again and starting to thrive, I just don’t want to devote as much time to looking back and being nostalgic. It feels suffocating.

    I told a musician friend of mine that I deleted my Spotify account as a way to heal and move on with life, and he was kind of horrified. He said that he used his old Spotify playlists as a marker of how far he’s come in life. Listening to the music he loved at a certain time, lyrics and themes, he’s able to track his growth and feel proud of himself.

    I actually think that’s really cool.

    But for me, I find that a natural part of my healing progression is learning to let things go.

    Which is fine and dandy when you’re healing from a breakup or bad living situation, but absolutely tragic when you’re trying to heal from the death of a loved one. It seems cruel that healing from grief of death eventually means that you stop feeling as much emotion from the memories as you used to.

    In many ways, it feels like the honorable thing to do is to stay in the state of grief and remembrance.

    Part of me doesn’t want to heal, because healing causes you to move on in tiny ways.

    Part of me wants to stay traumatized forever, haunted by his ghost, worn down by heavy emotions. I felt so guilty the first time I laughed after he died, the first day I didn’t cry over him, the first day that I felt pretty again and didn’t look like death warmed over.

    And part of me felt guilty for deleting my Spotify and no longer having access to his music.

    But music nostalgia can quickly morph into just being stuck in the past, or even stuck in a traumatic feeling. And I felt sad when I realized that my music taste hadn’t really changed at all since living in California, how stuck in the past I became. And I felt sad when I saw Zach’s playlists and all this music I couldn’t relate to and thought about all the things I’ll never know about him and how he’ll never get to grow and evolve beyond the 21 year old version of himself. It all just felt so sad and I didn’t want to associate music with catalogued playlists of sadness anymore. 

    So my Spotify is officially deleted.

    Maybe that’s why I desperately want a record player now. Obviously I want one for the aesthetics of it. I love an old fashioned vintage vibe. I feel like it’s my final form as a surly millennial. I already have a tobacco pipe and John Lennon sunglasses, and my sister and I co-own our grandma’s typewriter. Besides aesthetics, I want music to be less of a curated collection of specific memories, and more like an art experience again. I want to listen to albums again, albums, damn it. (I’m saying this the same way that Bilbo says, “I want to see mountains again, mountains, Gandalf!”)

    But I think I also want a record player because you can’t listen to music on repeat on it (unless there are some record player hacks to achieve this). The main intention of a record player is to listen to an album all the way through, and it stops when it’s done. No looping or hijacking of emotions.

    Zach had a song playing on his computer when he died. Playing on a loop.

    We kept his computer on for over a year, the song playing on infinite repeat that entire time. I would quietly slip into his room when no one else was around and sit in his desk chair and put on his headphones.

    The song was always playing, a piano cover he had liked, a sweet solace, his final gift to us. I always cried when I listened to it.

    We had to shut the computer off around Christmas last year. I lashed out at my older brother for turning it off, but he said the computer was crashing and he was trying to preserve as much as he could.

    And the song finally came to an end.

    It felt like unplugging a coma patient. It felt like his breath finally let out and his heart gave its last beat.

    It hurts to heal. It hurts to let go. But we’re still here living, so we need to live.

    The past was beautiful. And so is the future.

    No more looping.

    Time to start living.


    “Elsa,” he whispered, leaning in to kiss her, moving to a song that wasn’t being played. “We are the music.”

    —Kristin Hannah, The Four Winds (bookshop + amazon)


    I am so tuned to being alive that if you touch me it makes music.

    —Jenny Slate, Little Weirds • (bookshop + amazon)


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  • The Four Winds


    Title: The Four Winds

    Author: Kristin Hannah

    Read In: 2021

    Description:

    Purchase: Bookshop.org (affiliate link)


    Favorite Quotes:

     

    The Four Winds: A Novel

    Hannah, Kristin

    1921

    Highlight(yellow) – One > Page 7 · Location 67

    A life, not merely an existence. That was her dream: a world in which her life and her choices were not defined by the rheumatic fever she’d contracted at fourteen, a life where she uncovered strengths heretofore unknown, where she was judged on more than her appearance.

    Highlight(yellow) – One > Page 9 · Location 104

    If she didn’t do something soon, something drastic, her future would look no different from her present.

    Highlight(yellow) – One > Page 10 · Location 114

    There had to be opportunities out there, but where would she find them? The library. Books held the answer to every question.

    Highlight(yellow) – One > Page 12 · Location 157

    Elsa still missed her grandfather every day. He had been a blustery man, given to drink and arguing, but what he’d loved, he’d loved with abandon. He’d grieved the loss of his wife for years. He’d been the only Wolcott besides Elsa who loved reading, and he’d frequently taken her side in family disagreements. Don’t worry about dying, Elsa. Worry about not living. Be brave.

    Highlight(yellow) – One > Page 13 · Location 163

    Mama looked up from her roses, tipped her new sunbonnet back, and said, “Elsa. Where have you been?” “Library.” “You should have let Papa drive you. The walk is too much for you.” “I’m fine, Mama.” Honestly. It sometimes seemed they wanted her to be ill.

    Highlight(yellow) – Two > Page 17 · Location 215

    Eighteenth Amendment

    Highlight(yellow) – Three > Page 29 · Location 390

    Even though Prohibition made liquor illegal, there was plenty to be had for the men, who were a tough, sturdy group of immigrants from Russia, Germany, Italy, and Ireland. They’d come here with nothing and made something out of that nothing and they didn’t cotton to being told how to live, not by each other or by a government that hardly seemed to know the Great Plains existed.

    Highlight(yellow) – Five > Page 51 · Location 727

    He bent down, scooped up a handful of dirt. “My land tells its story if you listen. The story of our family. We plant, we tend, we harvest. I make wine from grape cuttings that I brought here from Sicily, and the wine I make reminds me of my father. It binds us, this land, one to another, as it has for generations. Now it will bind you to us.” “I’ve never tended to anything.” He looked at her. “Do you want to change that?” Elsa saw compassion in his dark eyes, as if he knew how afraid she’d been in her life,

    Highlight(yellow) – Five > Page 53 · Location 763

    Elsa learned—to her surprise and to her mother-in-law’s—that she wasn’t a quitter. She woke up each morning well before her husband and got into the kitchen in time to make coffee. She learned to make and eat and love food she had never heard of, made from ingredients she’d never seen—olive oil, fettuccine, arancini, pancetta. She learned how to disappear on a farm: work harder than anyone else and don’t complain.

    1934

    Highlight(yellow) – Six > Page 74 · Location 1041

    And Grandma and Mom? They were like all the farm wives in Lonesome Tree. They worked their fingers to the bone, rarely laughing and hardly talking. When they did talk, it was never about anything interesting. Daddy was the only one who talked about ideas or choices or dreams. He talked about travel and adventures and all the lives a person could live. He’d repeatedly told Loreda that there was a big beautiful world beyond this farm.

    Highlight(yellow) – Seven > Page 82 · Location 1164

    Loreda couldn’t remember the last time she’d let Mom kiss her. Loreda didn’t want the kind of love that trapped. She wanted to be told she could fly high, be anything and go anywhere—she wanted the things her father wanted. Someday she would smoke cigarettes and go to jazz clubs and get a job. Be modern. Her mother’s idea of a woman’s place was too sad for Loreda to bear.

    Highlight(yellow) – Eight > Page 90 · Location 1287

    Elsa and Rose combined their individual optimism into a communal hope, stronger and more durable in the combination.

    Highlight(yellow) – Nine > Page 103 · Location 1496

    she hurried, she would be able to do laundry today, bleach everything into whiteness. There was something about fresh sheets hanging on the line that lifted her spirits. Perhaps it was simply a vision of having accomplished a thing that improved her family’s life, even if no one noticed.

    1935

    Highlight(yellow) – Twenty > Page 234 · Location 3496

    She’d pulled dozens of leather-bound books out of bookshelves and dusted behind them, unable to stop herself from smelling the leather, the paper, even reading a sentence or two. Her life as a reader felt far away.

    Highlight(yellow) – Twenty > Page 235 · Location 3522

    She slowed the truck to a stop and rolled down the window. It was not her husband, of course. “You need a ride, friend?” she asked. The man glanced sideways. The skin on his face was tightly drawn over sharp bones. His cheeks were hollow. “Naw. Thanks, tho. Ain’t nowhere to go and I got me a rhythm.”

    Highlight(yellow) – Twenty-Three > Page 273 · Location 4110

    Loreda hated to get out of the chair. It felt magical, a portal to a what-if world where ditch-dwellers turned into princesses. Her legs were a little shaky, to be honest. In the mirror, she’d seen more than her face. She’d seen the girl she’d been before all of this. A dreamer, a believer. Someone who would go places. How had she forgotten all of that? It gave her a newfound, or refound, hope, but it fed the anger in her, too.

    Highlight(yellow) – Twenty-Three > Page 274 · Location 4121

    A library. Magic. She opened the door and walked right in, standing tall, the girl she’d been raised to be. A girl who believed in education and dreamed of being a reporter. Or a novelist. Something interesting, anyway. The first thing she noticed was the smell of books. She inhaled deeply and felt transported for a moment to Lonesome Tree. In her bedroom, light on, reading … Home.

    Highlight(yellow) – Twenty-Three > Page 275 · Location 4138

    Loreda touched the book, lifted it to her face, and inhaled the remembered scent that made her think of reading at night … with Stella after school; listening to Daddy telling her bedtime stories. Like a flower that had been sucked dry in a drought and felt the first drop of spring rain, Loreda felt herself revive.

    Highlight(yellow) – Twenty-Three > Page 278 · Location 4179

    They both knew better. It was something to be ashamed of. Americans weren’t supposed to take handouts from the government. They were supposed to work hard and succeed on their own.

    1936

    Highlight(yellow) – Twenty-Six > Page 311 · Location 4672

    “Believe me, Loreda, whatever the question is, communism is not the answer. We’re Americans.

    Highlight(yellow) – Twenty-Seven > Page 322 · Location 4841

    “Come on.” Loreda dragged Ant to the tent, where a woman in a black coat stood all by herself smoking a cigarette. She wore black wool pants and a creamy white sweater and a beret. Bright red lipstick accentuated the pallor of her skin. Loreda approached the tent. “Hello?” The woman pulled the cigarette from her bright red lips and turned. Her dark eyes narrowed into an assessing gaze that swept Loreda from head to foot. “Would you like some coffee?” Loreda had never seen a woman like this. So … elegant, or maybe it was just boldness. She was probably Mom’s age, but her style and beauty were somehow ageless.

    Highlight(yellow) – Twenty-Seven > Page 324 · Location 4872

    She looked at Jack. Even with all they’d been through, the long, terrible night, there was a strength in him that comforted her. You could count on a man like that, she thought. A man who didn’t just spout ideas, but fought for them, took beatings for them, and stayed in place. If only her father had been more like Jack. A rebel instead of a dreamer. Daddy had given Loreda words; it was actions that mattered. She knew that now. Leaving. Staying. Fighting. Or walking away. Loreda wanted to be like Jack, not like her faithless father. She wanted to stand for something and tell the world she was better than this, that America should be better than letting her live this way.

    Highlight(yellow) – Twenty-Seven > Page 326 · Location 4896

    ELSA WOKE TO SUNSHINE coming through glass windows and it made her miss the farmhouse in Lonesome Tree. She would write about that in her journal later, about the simple joy of seeing sunshine through clean glass, golden, pure as the gaze of God, and how it could lift one’s spirit.

    Highlight(yellow) – Twenty-Seven > Page 326 · Location 4904

    She saw Ant and Loreda handing out food on trays. The sight of them helping others when they themselves had lost everything made her proud. After all they’d suffered—the hardship, the loss, the disappointment—there they were, smiling and handing out food. Helping people. It gave her hope for the future.

    Highlight(yellow) – Twenty-Seven > Page 327 · Location 4920

    “We’re proud,” she said. “We believe in hard work and a fair chance. Not one for all and all for one.”

    Highlight(yellow) – Twenty-Seven > Page 334 · Location 5030

    firebrand.

    Highlight(yellow) – Twenty-Seven > Page 334 · Location 5034

    Fear is smart until…” He headed for the door, paused as he reached for the knob. “Until what?” He looked back at her. “Until you realize you’re afraid of the wrong thing.”

    Highlight(yellow) – Twenty-Seven > Page 334 · Location 5036

    THAT NIGHT, WHILE THE children slept, Elsa got her journal out of the box that had been in the truck. She turned through the pages. The children had been right that writing helped. Words jumped out at her: rain, baby in a lavender blanket, no work, waiting for cotton, the demoralizing rain. Tonight, later, she would write about her constant fear, how it strangled her all the time and the constant effort it took not to show it to her children. Writing about it would remind her that they had survived. As bad as the flood had been, they were still here.

    Highlight(yellow) – Twenty-Nine > Page 358 · Location 5402

    What could be better than skipping school to visit the library?

    Highlight(yellow) – Thirty-One > Page 381 · Location 5749

    The difference between Loreda and her mother wasn’t fear—they shared that. It was fire. Her mother’s passion had gone out. Or maybe she’d never had any. The only time Loreda had seen genuine anger from her mother was the night they’d buried the Deweys’ baby. Loreda wanted to be angry. What had Jack said to her the first day they met? You have fire in you, kid. Don’t let the bastards snuff it out. Something like that. Loreda didn’t want to be the kind of woman who suffered in silence.

    Highlight(yellow) – Thirty-One > Page 382 · Location 5778

    Jack stood in the front of the room, commanded attention. Although he was dressed like many of the migrants around him, in faded, stained overalls and a frayed denim shirt beneath a dusty brown suit coat, there was vibrancy to him, an aliveness that was like no one she’d ever met before. Jack believed in things and fought to make the world a better place. He was the kind of man a girl could count on.

    Highlight(yellow) – Thirty-One > Page 386 · Location 5838

    “Mom, if you’d listen to him—” “No,” Elsa said. “And neither will you. It’s my job to keep you safe. By God, I’ve failed at everything else. I will not fail at that. Do you hear me?” Loreda stopped. Elsa had no choice but to stop, too, and turn back. “What?” “Do you really think you’ve failed me?” “Look at us. Walking back to a cabin smaller than our old toolshed. Both of us skinny as matchsticks and hungry all of the time. Of course I’ve failed you.” “Mom,” Loreda said, moving close. “I’m alive because of you. I go to school. I can think because you want to make sure I always do. You haven’t failed me. You’ve saved me.”

    Highlight(yellow) – Thirty-Two > Page 402 · Location 6101

    “A strike.” She said the frightening word quietly. “Can it work?” “Maybe.” She was grateful for his honesty. “They’ll hurt us for trying.” “Yeah,” he said. “But life is more than what happens to us, Elsa. We have choices to make.” “I’m not a brave woman.” “And yet here you are, standing at the edge of battle.” His words touched a chord in her. “My grandfather was a Texas Ranger. He used to tell me that courage was a lie. It was just fear that you ignored.”

    Highlight(yellow) – Thirty-Three > Page 408 · Location 6184

    “The Brennans ain’t comin’,” Ant said. “They said we’re crazy to come.”

    Highlight(yellow) – Thirty-Three > Page 412 · Location 6256

    “My life. It’s … more of an idea. A cause. Or it has been.”

    Highlight(yellow) – Thirty-Four > Page 423 · Location 6441

    Jack stood. She walked boldly up to him. In his eyes, she saw love. For her. It was young, new, not deep and settled and familiar like Rose and Tony’s, but love just the same, or at least the beautiful, promising start of it. All of her life she’d waited for a moment like this, yearned for it, and she would not let it pass by unnoticed, unremarked upon. Time felt incredibly precious in these hours before the strike. “I promised a girlfriend something crazy.” “Oh, yeah?” She brought her hands up, linked them behind his head. “I’ve never asked a man to dance. And I know there’s no music.” “Elsa,” he whispered, leaning in to kiss her, moving to a song that wasn’t being played. “We are the music.” Elsa closed her eyes and let him lead. For you, Jean.

    Highlight(yellow) – Thirty-Five > Page 425 · Location 6459

    Love is what remains when everything else is gone. This is what I should have told my children when we left Texas. What I will tell them tonight. Not that they will understand yet. How could they? I am forty years old, and I only just learned this fundamental truth myself. Love. In the best of times, it is a dream. In the worst of times, a salvation. I am in love. There it is. I’ve written it down. Soon I will say it out loud. To him. I am in love. As crazy and ridiculous and implausible as it sounds, I am in love. And I am loved in return. And this—love—gives me the courage I need for today. The four winds have blown us here, people from all across the country, to the very edge of this great land, and now, at last, we make our stand, fight for what we know to be right. We fight for our American dream, that it will be possible again. Jack says that I am a warrior and, while I don’t believe it, I know this: A warrior believes in an end she can’t see and fights for it. A warrior never gives up. A warrior fights for those weaker than herself. It sounds like motherhood to me.

    Highlight(yellow) – Thirty-Five > Page 427 · Location 6490

    “The world can be changed by a handful of courageous people. Today we fight on behalf of those who are afraid.

    Highlight(yellow) – Thirty-Five > Page 430 · Location 6532

    “Men wear masks because they’re ashamed of what they’re doing,” Jack said through the megaphone. “They know this is wrong.”

    Highlight(yellow) – Thirty-Five > Page 436 · Location 6634

    Elsa didn’t need them to tell her she was dying. She could feel her body shutting down. But not her heart. Her heart was so full it couldn’t hold all of the love she felt when she looked at these three who had shown her the world. She’d thought she had a lifetime to show them her love. Time. Hers had gone too fast. She’d only just discovered who she was. She had counted on a lifetime to teach her children what they needed to know, but she didn’t have that gift of grace and time. Still, she had given them what mattered: they were loved and they knew it. Everything else was decoration. Love remains.

    Highlight(yellow) – Thirty-Five > Page 438 · Location 6659

    Loreda took the pouch in her hand, held it as her tears fell. “What do I do without you?” Elsa tried to smile but couldn’t. She was too tired. Too weak. “You live, Loreda,” she whispered. “And know … every single second … how much I loved you.” Find your voice and use it … take chances … never give up. Elsa couldn’t keep her eyes open anymore. There was so much more to say, a lifetime’s worth of love and advice to bestow on her children, but there was no more time … Be brave, she might have said, or maybe she only thought it.

    Highlight(yellow) – Thirty-Six > Page 443 · Location 6736

    Loreda sighed. “I miss her so much I can’t breathe. How will I make it like this for the rest of my life?” She was grateful he didn’t answer. There was truth in his silence. She already knew this was a grief she would never get over. “I never said I was proud of her,” Loreda said. “How could I—” “Close your eyes,” Jack said. “Tell her now. I’ve been talking to my mom that way for years.” “Do you think she hears?” “Moms know everything, kid.” Loreda closed her eyes and thought of all the things she wished she’d said to her mother. I love you. I’m proud of you. I’ve never seen anyone so brave. Why was I so mean for so long? You gave me wings, Mom. Did you know that? I feel you here. Will I always? When she opened her eyes, there were stars overhead.

    Epilogue

    Highlight(yellow) – Page 447 · Location 6786

    my love for you will outlive me.