Her screams were loud and penetrating, shrill and incessant. The kind that spawn headaches and make blood boil. They were terrible. And I sat on the couch and listened to her unwarranted hysteria for 15 uncomfortable minutes. Sometimes the bedtime routine just doesn’t go well…I could’ve gone to my room and closed the door to drown her out, but I didnt. Instead I chose to listen to her pain and disappointment, to take in all the unpleasantness that she was experiencing. It’s not as captivating a sound as the soft giggle she makes when I tickle her or hearing her say those precious words “I love you Mama,” but it’s sound nonetheless, and I chose to hear her because – I still can.
The truth is there are things I can no longer hear (even with the help of hearing aids), like the humming of a refrigerator, the background music in a department store, even the rumbling of thunder across the sky. They’re all things I’ve lost over the last 14 years. I was only 24 the first time I heard the words “you suffer from a bilateral degenerative hearing loss.” Less than two years later, I could no longer hear the average human voice without my hearing aids. When I was 29, I vividly remember the audiologist showing me an “audiogram of familiar sounds” which had cute little graphics of some of the things you can naturally hear at specific decibels and frequencies. There were images on it of water dripping, a clock ticking, birds chirping, a piano, etc. My results were all the way at the bottom, right next to — jet engines, jackhammers and shotguns. In just eight years, I went from a mild hearing loss to a profound hearing loss – once losing over twenty decibels in one ear, practically overnight.
The original prognosis was that I would lose all hearing function by age 35. I was 31 when I was pregnant with my first child and I remember trying to bargain with myself “just as long as I get to hear his first word” then I’ll be able to accept going completely deaf. Then two years later, during my second pregnancy, I reduced it to “just as long as I can hear her laugh for the first time.” The good news is I achieved those milestones and many more since then. Luckily, after a decade of degenerative hearing loss, it seems to have stabilized and for the last four years there have been no major changes with my auditory levels. Suffice to say, I’m relieved, considering the original prognosis. However, I would be doing a disservice to myself and all of my friends and loved ones if I were to believe it’s going to remain stable, forever.
So on the days where I have the luxury of selective hearing (by turning off my hearing aids), and I find myself stuck in the car with the kids while they bicker or find the most annoying sound in the world and decide to keep repeating it over-and-over again, I quietly remind myself, “I’m not always going to have a choice when I want to hear them or not.” Then I’m compelled to turn my aids back on and listen, gratefully, to the chaos in the backseat, because there is one thing that’s certain: I’ll miss it when it’s gone…
You’ll Miss It When It’s Gone
You’ll never miss the bacon
until there’s none to fry.
You’ll never miss the money
until every cent is spent,
and you can’t collect a penny
from those to whom you’ve lent.
Good advice your parents gave
will someday on you dawn;
when they’re sleeping in the grave
you’ll miss them when they’re gone.
Little minutes make the hours,
hours make the day,
and little buds make flowers,
but both will fade away.
Time will vanish with the dew
that sparkles on the lawn;
it never will return to you
to miss it when it’s gone.
So when the evening sun has set,
look to a brighter dawn,
and live with nothing to regret
or miss it when it’s gone.
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