“Sing for Me”

“Sing for Me”

Iona Murphy

The Last words shared between us. We were at a family dinner in the local Chinese Buffet. Now it keeps closing down and reopening with a different name and the exact same food. I sat right opposite you at dinner so we could talk the whole time, challenging each other to see who could eat the most banana fritters. I ate so many I thought my little belly was going to explode. You let me win with seven. I told you all about rehearsals for the talent show coming up and how I was going to sing Magic Moments. On the way out you asked for a sneak preview. I wish I sung that day.

You never got to see the talent show where I sang Magic Moments. I even had a solo part. I was a backing dancer in Super Trooper and Rocking All Over the World too. Even without you cheering me on, I didn’t shy away from the stage. You never saw our production of The Button Box where I played Auntie Nellie the belly dancer and ‘Crow Two.’ Not the most glamourous roles, especially when I had auditioned for the lead. You still would have been proud though, telling me I was the shining star of the show.

Two days after it happened I went to Choir like I did every Wednesday. We were learning to sing songs from The Lion King because the kids in year six were going to see it performed in the West End. Next year I would get to go, but I never got to tell you that. The song that day was Endless Night, coming straight after Mufasa’s death. You promised you’d be there, whenever I needed you, whenever I call your name, you’re not anywhere. I couldn’t get the words out. When I was fourteen I downloaded the West End album on my iPod. I skipped Endless Night every time. I haven’t listened to it since that day in choir.

When I was learning to play the piano I was so excited to tell you that I was learning Puff the Magic Dragon. You asked me if I knew what it was really about and I told a story of finding magical dragons down by the water. You told me my version of the story was much better and that really it was about drugs. I was so excited that I knew something other people didn’t, it was our little secret. When I lost you on Monday I didn’t go to piano lessons. My teacher was your friend and she hurt too. I wanted to go but I couldn’t move my body from the left hand corner of the sofa, staring blankly at the board games on the shelves opposite. Asking why it happened. It wasn’t fair. I still sit in that spot on the sofa, holding on to a little part of you. I kept playing even without you. When I dusted off the keyboard for the first time in ten years I thought of you as I played a shaky version of Addict with a Pen. In Copenhagen I did a duet of Welcome to the Black Parade with a friend, it reminded me of our duets. I knew you’d be happy that I returned back to music that was our special bond.

I’ll never get to tell you that I got the part of Mary in the nativity, just like you always said I would. How I sat in Church on the alter and sang Away in a Manger, cradling a real baby in my arms. When my little baby Jesus started filling the Church with screams, I had to pass her through a little arched window and the real mother passed back a tissue box hidden in a white blanket because someone forgot to bring the emergency back-up doll. We never got to laugh about how they couldn’t get a real donkey because the couple who owned the usual nativity donkey got divorced and were in an angry custody battle. They had to use a Shetland pony, who refused to walk down the aisle to the tune of Little Donkey which they played three times before he decided to trot towards the crib.

When Christmas comes around I put your unreleased Christmas song on. I know it would be a hit if we released it, maybe even Christmas number one. You were the most wonderful singer and hearing your voice at Christmas fills the air with your presence. Each snowfall reminds me of you. You always had a powerful voice, your laughter filled every room. For months afterwards, each time I heard a Scottish accent I thought it was you. The day of the funeral a tall man with a deep voice came in and I caught my breath. You had come and it was all a prank. No matter how hard I wished, no man was you.

Granny thinks of you when Can’t Help Falling in Love starts to play. It makes me think about you too. I know if you could see her now you’d beam with joy. Her wonderful hats, her tiny little Scottie dog, her enthralling conversation, her warm heart. She still lights up every room just like you’d remember. Sometimes when I don’t believe in love, I think about the way you would look at each other, peeking through the glass of the framed photo of you both on my desk. She still wears a locket with your hair inside.

When I sing out of tune I know it would make you smile. When I grab the microphone and pour my heart out at karaoke I know you’d be glad that I never hid my voice in shame. Your little girl grew up and never stopped thinking about you, wishing you could have been there for all the big moments in her life. I know you’d be proud of every little thing I did, you always were. I started doing the things you told me I could do. Twenty-one I picked up a pen and wrote again. It was a poem about loss. You always told me I could be a writer, you loved listening to my stories, those little fantasy worlds I dreamed up in my head. That’s where you live now.

The first poem I ever wrote, I read for you in the crematorium. A tremble in my voice I stood in front of the masses of people who loved you like I do. Each stanza ended in the same rhyming couplet: “there’s no need to protest / my grandad was the best.” Everybody told me I was very brave. They still tell me that fourteen years later. I’ll never see it as brave. It’s what you deserved. A doodle of a tiny little girl with plaits and a full fringe holding hands with a six-foot man with a big belly. My big grandad. Sometimes I sit at your bench and trace the letters in your name. I read that phrase over and over again. Life is fleeting. Love is eternal.

Magic Moments never had the same feeling again. It’s always for you. Time can’t erase it. Time won’t erase you. Our magic moments, filled with love.

Iona Murphy