On Monday, I received a call from my friend, Darren, from Levitt Weinstein Funeral Home, in Boca. Darren is such a great young man, and when we met, we really clicked. I was trying to expand my name a bit, especially since I have found that presiding at funerals was amazingly rewarding to me, and I loved being such a source of comfort to the families who needed me most. But, for anyone who knows, getting funeral homes to “accept” and hire women is a difficult challenge, even today. But, having hit it off so well, Darren promised that he would call me very soon, with the perfect service.
Well, the day that Darren called, my life was immediately transformed, because I was connected with the most special family. The woman who had passed away was 56 years old. She was Autistic. She died very suddenly, as she had gone into cardiac arrest as a result of an insulin imbalance. The family was small, a sister and a mother, 2 aunts, some friends, and previous care takers and case managers who cared deeply for Jolene. Because the mother was in her mid-90s, (as well as were her sisters), it was going to be difficult to hold the service in a funeral home, so it was planned in the mother’s home, for a small group of about 20 people.
I called Beverley, the sister, and we spent 2 hours on the phone. Beverley told me all about Jolene, and her life, and how her parents had made it their life mission to help not only Jolene, but many other children with Autism. I was amazed, because 50 years ago, Autism was unheard of, and this family made such a difference in the lives of children with Autism. I could have listened to Beverley for hours, and when I was done, and I reflected on our call, I was positive that I could feel Jolene’s spirit. I could almost hear her laugh, and I could feel this family’s pain, as if it were my own.
Sure, I needed this service to be amazing, because I wanted Darren to be so proud of me, but it became much more than that. I needed to honor Jolene, more than anything, because I felt so connected to her, and felt like I had known her all of my life. So, I put my funeral service together, and then, I was so moved, I felt I really needed to write a song about her. Strangely, when Beverley was talking to Darren, and they were speaking about an officiant, she actually mentioned that a woman would be nice, and if he could find someone who played an instrument, who could sing as well, that that would be perfect. (Boy, did Darren find me the PERFECT service)
So, I brought my guitar, my song, and all the love and compassion I had in my heart, and I created a celebration of Jolene’s life, right there, in her mother’s living room. The mother, and the 2 aunts were right there in front of me, and inspired me throughout the whole service. (I want to add – one of those aunts is the mother of someone very famous, whose name I will not mention, because it is completely irrelevant to the subject, but, it just added to that “need to please” feeling I had all around) And then, I sang….
Jolene’s Silent Voice. I wrote a song that would have come from Jolene’s heart, had she been able to express herself. Her family was incredibly moved, but so were her caretakers, all who are very active in the world of Autism. They gave me such amazing feedback, and honor, that I think that I was moved, even more than they were. And so, there, in that living room in Lake Worth, my life changed dramatically. Maybe I realized what I had inside of me, that had been there all along. Maybe now I could thank God for the gift of always being super-sensitive, which I had always considered a curse. I just needed to use it in the right way.
Thank You, Jolene, for the impact you made on my life. Thank You, Beverley, for showing me your appreciation, and Thank You to everyone who was there, who made me feel so special, and so important. I poured out my heart in that room, but left with my heart overflowing with love, and appreciation.
So, below are the words to Jolene’s Silent Voice. I hope to be able to sing this song for others involved in the Autism community. I hope to make a difference to someone, as much as Jolene made a difference to me.
A little girl in a quiet world, with noises all around
You may have thought I didn’t feel, because I couldn’t’ make a sound
But have no fear, I knew you were near, and your loving gave me pride
To always know I had you – right by my side.
I couldn’t speak, I couldn’t show just how I really cared,
I couldn’t even let you know if I was happy, or scared.
Yet somehow in my quiet world, you always understood
Just what it was I needed most, I always knew you would
You might have thought my quiet world was lonely or sad
The less that I could tell you, the more that you felt bad
But deep inside what you don’t know is I always felt your love
And now I’ll be your angel, watching you from above.
Dear Momma, Dear Sister, dear family and friends,
Please don’t be sad, because my silence now ends.
Who could be sad or lonely, and who could despair
With loved ones who always showed me they cared
I’ll watch and protect you, like you did for me,
I’ll be your angel, watch and you’ll see…
I felt your love, I just couldn’t say
I loved you back – every day, every way.
So now hear my song, it’s sent to you with love,
I’m your loving angel, watching you….from above.