I kissed your head
Told you I loved you, ’cause I wanted
You to know just how much that you impacted
My life, so much more than I could ask for
This is not good-bye, and yes, I will cry but that’s ’cause I miss your face
This is not good-bye, I know I’ll see you on the other side some day
This is not good-bye
I held your hand
We praised and we prayed with all we had
With every second and every minute you breathed
You are a fighter to me
I dedicate this song to you
The mother who taught me all I know
How to walk, how to talk, how to write and how to cry How to pray everyday
-Ceci Frost, “This Is Not Good-Bye” (March 2009)
That was me: raw, open, and vulnerable. These were the words that so easily spilled out of my mouth. These were the feelings that were tugging at my core. I wrote this song during the first two weeks after losing my mom. I remember sitting on the floor of my childhood bedroom with my guitar in my arms. I was at a loss for words and feelings. These lyrics symbolized a conversation between my mom and me. The song was also grief medication for the soul. In the midst of numbness and zombie-like emotions, I had to tell myself repeatedly what I knew. Where there was fogginess, questions, emptiness, and sadness, I had to tell myself there was love, legacy, inspiration, and a future. The future was extremely hard to picture at this point. Singing these lyrics over and over again to my soul was reassuring myself that the last eighteen years of my life were real. This is real, and although it’s devastating, I’m the luckiest girl in the world to have had a mom like her.
During times like these, your mind and your concept of time start to play tricks on you. It messes with you, and at moments, I felt crazy. Two weeks in, I was wrestling with flashbacks and dreams. I guess maybe I was looking for something tangible in those moments to explain things. I wanted to make sense of events and grasp the timeline of the past couple of weeks.
It felt as though I had just hugged her, saw her, and talked to her the other day, and now I will never do any of those things again. That was hard to comprehend. I was frustrated that I hadn’t seen her more the past three months during college. At times, I was kind of upset at the Lord because I felt like college—in San Dimas, CA—was where I was supposed to be, yet it was during my mom’s last months with us. If I knew I was going to lose her, I wouldn’t have moved away! But looking back, I honestly think I was where I was supposed to be. God knew what kind of people I would need in my life to help me fight the daily struggle. I was super thankful, though, for the times I met my mom and dad in Santa Monica while she was in a clinical trial program.
It’s no coincidence that what brought my mom comfort during cancer was the same thing that brought me comfort after she passed away. Music. I couldn’t agree more when she blogged and said, “Music has a way of speaking to my spirit and refreshing it.”
Music was how I coped with loss. It’s actually how I coped with everything once I started learning how to play guitar and piano. I listened to it, I played it, and I wrote it.
I could record an album of just the songs I wrote during the first year of my grief journey. After every song I wrote, I felt relieved and lighter, as if the words were a weighty burden lifted off of me. The weight of the world that I felt I had to carry was blown away. Lyrics were the beat to my grieving heart. Later on, I felt as though my lyrics helped other hearts to sing and breathe as well, especially at my mom’s memorial.
We decided to have a memorial instead of a funeral for my mom because we wanted to focus more on honoring her than the fact that she had passed away. She was full of life, so we were sure she wouldn’t want it any other way. I created a picture slideshow for the memorial, and we had lots of help putting together the handouts, setting up, cleaning up, and attending the reception.
Nothing in me wanted to speak at the memorial. On top of that, I didn’t feel like I had anything to say at the moment, but I did have something to sing. I wanted to be a part of the service somehow, because I wanted to honor my mom. I decided to sing one of my originals, “Tell Me How to Trust,” that I wrote during the second time my mom found out she had cancer (lung cancer). The song is full of hard questions that I asked the Lord when I was struggling with what to feel about the cancer returning.
There isn’t a whole lot I remember about the memorial, but I do remember singing. As I was up on stage, I couldn’t see people’s faces because my eyes were fighting back tears. Singing that song in front of everyone became more of a conversation between God and me, like no one else was around. I don’t remember many words that were exchanged that day, but altogether, the day felt like one giant hug. It was overwhelming and beautiful how many people showed up to honor, respect, and say “See you later” to my mom. I believe there were about three hundred people that came that day.
Tell me how to trust when it feels like your world’s falling apart
Tell me how to trust when it feels like your world’s crashing down
Tell me how to trust when you don’t even want to talk to God
Tell me, tell me, tell me now
Now I know the way you make me feel when I trust
You make me feel like I can make it, when it seems like there’s no possible way
You make me feel like today will be better than yesterday
Tell me how to trust when you don’t even want to stand up tall
Tell me how to trust when it seems too dark and you can’t see the wall
Tell me how to trust when it feels like nothing’s going right
Tell me, tell me, tell me now
This is my simple thank you song, thank you.
–“Tell Me How to Trust”