Symphony by Chloe Nakano

Jocelyn faces up to her grief at the loss of her husband; by Chloe Nakano.

Time heals all wounds.

Over the past month, Jocelyn's family and friends had offered her so many different variations of the popular phrase, that she now found herself hating it. 'Does it?' she wanted to yell at the next unlucky person who dared say it. 'Because it sure as hell don't feel like it.'

Even now, something simple like the doorbell ringing made her feel like she was suffocating beneath memories of her late husband, Charles. He was a cellist at a lounge downtown. After work he'd come home, hands full with his cello and papers or sound equipment, unable to open the door; he'd ring the doorbell to get her to open it for him. She'd sometimes get annoyed because it would interrupt her writing.

Now she missed it, so much that there was an ache in her chest every time she took hold of the cold brass and turned. She wished she could open it and see him again. If she still could, she would give him all the time in the world to recount any story he wanted; she'd listen intently, memorizing every word.

But he was gone now, along with his stories and his music, leaving behind an empty house and an empty wife.

Ding, dong.

There was that sinking feeling. She wished she could have someone remove that doorbell, but she was sure she would end up missing it, too.

Jocelyn got up from the small chair in her kitchen and her unfinished lunch. She walked down the hallway, the floorboards sighing beneath the drag of her footsteps. The pictures on the walls held the smiling faces of her and Charles together, eyes lit with endless happiness that contrasted painfully with the way she felt now. She wanted to rip the pictures down and hide them away, but the desire made her retch. How could she even consider that an option?

The photos showed the changing of the seasons, the countless trips they took together, and amidst it all, her favorite picture, a perfect day: Her and Charles, a bright blue sky, and a field of sunflowers. He knew they were her favorite. The colors churned around her in a crescendo.

She blinked, suddenly at the front door. How long had she been standing there? She exhaled shakily, grasping the doorknob. There was no one on the steps, but instead, a small package wrapped in brown paper. There was no note, but when Jocelyn bent down to pick it up, the feel and weight of the object made her heart skip a beat. She took a moment to look for whoever had left the package, but the street was quiet.

Jocelyn closed the door behind her, moving into her study. The scent of old books with leather bindings, pages, and ink filled the room. Her Macbook sat on the wooden desk amidst a flurry of papers. On the daybed was a pillow and blanket; it was the only room in the house that didn't give her that sinking feeling.

She turned the package over to open it. On the bottom right corner was a sunflower sticker. She suddenly gasped for air, not realizing she'd been holding her breath. She clutched her chest, closing her eyes, willing herself to breathe, to keep it together.

She tore open the brown packaging to reveal a CD case with an unmarked CD. Quickly, she moved towards the player on the shelf, putting the disc in and pressing play.

Bach's Cello Suite No. 1 in G.

Charles would play it for her when she needed inspiration for writing, and it was the sound of him that now filled the room; there was no mistaking it. She reached out to catch herself on a nearby bookcase, sinking down to the floor, yielding to the feelings of heavy pain interwoven with intense relief. She hadn't let anything out since the funeral, but now her body shook, tears streaming down her face uncontrollably. She wiped them away, but they continued their onslaught, demanding to be felt. She sobbed with every rise and fall, the chords resonating, reverberating, filling every crevice of the home with warmth her heart ached for. She listened all the way through, crying and laughing, her body flowing with the movements of the piece. When it was done, she played it again and again, until she fell into a deep sleep, exhausted.

She dreamt of sunflowers, a reaching clear blue sky, and Charles' face smiling brightly at her.


  1. A gentle story about human connectedness and human loss -woven together into the early steps of a journey that is not chosen but has to be made. Very many thanks, Ceinwen

  2. Very nice. Sad, but some healing suggested at the end. Good use of imagery.

  3. This is such a well written piece. The CD is such a good idea. Nobody ever goes away completely. We all leave something behind. Thought provoking and comforting.
    Mike McC

  4. Oh, I wanted so much to know what kind soul had left that CD at her door! Imagining it was someone from that lounge Charles played at downtown....

  5. A beautiful story about love and grief. Well-written, but I also wanted to know who left the CD.