|The choir right before the Christmas cantata|
It had been six months since I'd flown to New York for the botox injections that help me talk and my voice was still doing relatively well. I had a bit of raspiness and occasionally a word would catch in my throat, but all in all, I didn't sound all that bad. In fact, I probably could have held off the trip a bit longer and if I had, I would have seen the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center and the stores on Fifth Avenue all decorated for Christmas. It would have been a new experience for me, visiting New York during the holidays. But it wasn't December, it was the first Tuesday in November, and there was a reason for going when I did. I had been calculating in my head not how long it would take for the botox to help me talk, but how long it would take to let me sing again.
Having a voice disorder, my inability to speak without forcing every word was hard enough, but losing my singing voice was especially devastating. Over time I accepted the reality of how my life had changed because of Spasmodic Dysphonia, but that didn't change the longing I had to make music again. That is until early last year after meeting with a new doctor in New York. (See "Singing" November 8, 2010.) For the next few months I was able to do what I hadn't done in four years, sing. Unfortunately the injections are temporary, eventually the effects of the botox wear off. Thus the spasms slowly returned and sadly the singing was the first to go. I had wanted to sing for Christmas, but it wasn't going to happen. At least not this time.
And that's why I flew to New York when I did. As I sat in the chair waiting for the doctor to insert the needles into the muscles adjoining my vocal cords, I visited with his two assistants. They looked at me and both commented on how remarkably strong my voice was, even after six months. "You're the best voice we've heard today!" one of them said. I said something about wanting to get it out of the way before the winter weather hit the city. I remembered my first time there. It was January and a frigid, biting wind swept mercilessly through the streets of Manhattan. I had never been colder in my entire life, so in part it was the truth. But there was more, the part that was harder to articulate. If I had spoken my heart it would have gone something like this: "Well actually, I've been figuring out how many weeks it takes to sing again. I knew if I came now, I'd time it just right for Christmas!"
Last Sunday evening I had the privilege of directing our Christmas cantata. Not only did the choir watch my hands to bring them in and cut them off at the appropriate moments, they were watching my lips as well. For you see, I sang along with them on every single song, every single note. And Christmas Sunday morning, just a few days from now, I'll be singing the carols along with everyone else. It's all I really wanted, all I asked for this year. I wanted to be singing by Christmas.
|Larry and I right before the cantata|
|Warming up with the choir before the cantata|