Music is Healing and Meaningful

Music has always enriched my life, shared with my beloved sisters, Margie and Jane. As girls, we loved attending Broadway musicals. We listened to the recordings beforehand and sang the songs in our head as the actors performed on stage. Some of our favorites included The Sound of Music, Funny Girl, and Fiddler on the Roof. Now, this same music helps me grieve.

I realize that because, when I moved to downtown Boston, my collection of old records left in the basement for nineteen years was intact, along with my sisters’ records. I was astounded to sift through and discover that both Margie and Jane were fans of Carole King. The eclectic collection of records of three sisters ranged from Broadway musicals, KC and the Sunshine Band, to Joni Mitchell.

Choosing Music that Matters

Each year, I honor my sisters in my annual ice skating fundraiser, Celebration of Sisters. As part of the process, we choose a song to perform. I am always careful and thoughtful about this choice; I want it to reflect the theme of the day: sisters, love, and loss.

Throughout the year, wherever I am, I listen to dozens of songs. I’m determined to find the absolute perfect piece of music. I have to be careful not to get distracted while driving, because when I hear the song that I want to use, I want to pull over immediately to write it down.

When I arrive home, I listen to the song over and over and take in the words. The beat of the music also needs to be correct —not too fast, not too slow, the perfect rhythm to skate to. We’re honoring my cherished sisters, so the music must touch me. And, since I’ll be practicing for months leading up to the Celebration, I must unequivocally love the lyrics.

Songs that Express Grief

For the premiere song, I selected Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You.” There is no explanation needed. The lyrics of the song express my deepest feelings for Margie and Jane. I could not have selected a more perfect piece of music to help me grieve.

One year, when the date of Celebration of Sisters fell on Margie’s birthday, I skated to one of her favorites, “Downtown,” sung by Petula Clark. In my pink dress, accompanied by four other skaters in yellow dresses, we did a fun, sassy number, hamming it up just like my Margie always did. We donned paisley fabric wide headbands to recall the 60’s. My Margie played her guitar as her lovely voice sang this song.

In 2019, Margie would have been 65 and Jane 60. I skated “Beautiful” as a tribute to my sisters on their special birthdays.

New Music Each Year

Another year, I chose “Looking Through the Eyes of Love,” from the movie Ice Castle. The stunning music with its poetic words paralleled my own quest. The skater in the movie tragically loses her eyesight and, with the guidance of her friend, learns how to return to the sport she loves. This is how I felt rediscovering my sisters after so many years of hiding from their memory.

This year, I selected the music Edelweiss from The Sound of Music to perform on the ice as my final performance. It’s an orchestral arrangement, without lyrics. I hope the lovely music will glide me across the ice. Emotions will run high, as we honor the lives and memories of my treasured sisters, Margie and Jane.

Purchase Judy Lipson’s latest book at Celebration of Sisters: It’s Never Too Late to Grieve (9781608082674): Lipson, Judy: Books.

Read more of Judy Lipson’s articles here.

Judy Lipson

I am a sister who sadly lost both my sisters. I lost my younger beloved sister Jane died at age 22 in an automobile accident in 1981, and my older beloved sister Margie passed away at age 35 after a 20-year battle with anorexia and bulimia in 1990. I am the sole surviving sibling. As the Founder and Chair of “Celebration of Sisters,” this annual ice skating fundraiser honors and commemorates the lives and memories of my beloved sisters to benefit Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, MA. The event is scheduled the first Sunday in November as Jane’s birthday was November 6th and Margie’s November 8th. We celebrate all lost siblings, their legacies as they live on in all of us. Since the inception of Celebration of Sisters in 2011, I have embarked on the journey to mourn the losses of my beloved sisters that had been suppressed for 30 years. The process unmistakably the greatest challenging time in my life proved to be the most empowering, enlightening and freeing. Now that I am allowing my sisters and their memories to return to my heart where they truly belong, I am re-discovering myself, happier and more at peace. Ice skating is a sport shared by me and my sisters and a chord throughout my life. It has brought me full circle to pay tribute to my sisters and bring me joy, peace, healing and the recipient of the US Figure Skating 2020 Get Up Award. My memoir Celebration of Sisters: It is Never Too Late To Grieve will be published in December 2021. It is my goal to advocate for sibling loss to insure surviving siblings are neither alone nor forgotten.

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