You would be hard pressed to find someone who didn’t have songs that meant something to them at particular times in their lives. This is particularly so in times of extreme emotions.
In August 2002, I was diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukaemia after a blood test. I had been bruising for no reason and had in excess of fifteen bruises that I could see: there were more on my back. Within five hours of the test I was rushed to hospital, receiving blood transfusions. At the same time in my life, I was helping to look after my father who was terminally ill with liver cancer. My two boys were not even in their teens.
I tell you all this, not for sympathy (I’m cured – alive and kicking) but to set the scene. From the day I first went to hospital, I didn’t go home for weeks – except to visit my father for a couple of hours the afternoon before he died as it turns out and to attend his funeral. Overall, I spent the better part of six months in the Haematology ward of Gosford District Hospital. Luckily for me, I was allocated an excellent oncologist, the nursing staff were outstanding – and they had four isolation rooms for patients such as myself that had to have every defence knocked out of their system in order to save their life. I was allowed visitors but under strict conditions. Subsequently, I spent a fair bit of time by myself.
During this time there were a couple of songs that played over and over in my mind whenever I wasn’t occupied. One was my fighting song, the other my heartbreak one.
My fighting song: well, it was really the chorus of the song. White Flag by Dido.
I will go down with this ship
And I won’t put my hands up and surrender
There will be no white flag above my door
I’m in love and always will behttps://songmeanings.com/songs/view/3530822107858489990/
Now, Dido herself has said that this song actually about a breakup. But that is not what it meant to me. I was going to fight this cancer with everything I had in me: no surrender, and if I went down, it would be fighting. Not only would me going halve our income – but I had two little boys to raise. And my family had lost enough: my Mum died in 1999 of cancer, we lost Dad in 2002 – it wasn’t getting me as well.
To this day, I can’t hear this song without remembering the fight of my life – a fight that I won.
Funny enough, my sadness song is also by Dido – Here With Me:
I won’t sleep
I can’t breathe, until you’re resting here with mehttps://www.metrolyrics.com/here-with-me-lyrics-dido.html
This usually hit me in the dead of night when I couldn’t sleep – which was often. Although extremely tired, aching bones and headaches often kept me awake – as well as the physical heart ache I could feel in my heart at being away from my boys – and my husband. Like the wolf, I wanted to howl my loneliness to the world. I felt like my very existence hurt and I didn’t know what to do about it. Sometimes I even asked for sleeping tablets but they didn’t work in these desperate, dark moments. It was grieving that I went through constantly, like losing my family several times over.
I will still happily listen to both songs: White Flag is my song of strength; Here With Me is a reminder of the place my family hold in my heart and how lucky I am to have a supportive husband who got me through a dark period in my life while holding the family together.
Kerry A Waight - Author
A writer of historical fiction and paranormal stories.