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  • angelahattabaugh

Under my Umbrella

Updated: Aug 8, 2023

"Ella ella ella ella, eh eh eh eh," my six year old chants from the back seat. Who knew one of her favorite musical artists would be Rihanna? The woman is a superstar, so I have to admit to being somewhat of a fan as well. But the second I hear the lyrics to "Umbrella" I am instantly thrown back twenty years earlier, with my then 3 year old daughter and newborn son, listening to it on a burnt CD in the car. My genius first born child in her Dora the Explorer light up sneakers, and her own bangs cut to match Dora herself- courtesy of her hairstylist- my mom, is in her own world, singing her heart out to words she doesn't even understand yet. My little girl loved this song, in fact it may have been one of the first songs she started singing that was from the radio and not from a corny children's television show, but in the driver's seat of this car, in this same memory, was a man I had loved at one time, but now I deeply feared-the father of my two beautiful children.

Years after this memory, I found myself taking a lot of walks as a way to cope with an immense grief I was experiencing. I would put my ear buds in and listen to every inspirational song I could on these walks, but if I reached a song like "Umbrella" I would skip it so quickly I didn't even have to hear the opening notes. This year of my divorce, I believe I cried every day for 365 days straight. Not because I missed this man, the father of my two babies, but because I was a failure; I had damaged my children. I cried over every memory they would never have with him. Any song that reminded me of life before my divorce, I grievingly left unplayed so I wouldn't have to get punched in the gut with the past.

A year or so after the divorce, a small miracle happened. I went on a walk. listening to my same set of songs I always listened to, my hand on the buttons ready to skip the songs I always skipped. As I climbed through the play list, I reached "Umbrella," as I always did, and just before pressing skip, I had a change of heart. A moment of courage. I decided to let it play. I admit, I had a small ache in my heart, a tiny lump in my throat, but I let it play. All the way through. And instead of remembering all the traumas of the past, the hurt, the guilt, the pain, I remembered my little Dora the Explorer look alike, singing it beautifully from the backseat. I remembered, my son kicking his feet and smiling next to her in the car. I thought just of them and the true miracles they were in my life. And I let the song play.

Psalm 30 :5 says, "For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. The Lord Is Our God!"

This verse reminds me that pain takes time to heal, but God promises that we will again feel joy! We just have to give ourselves grace. If it takes a year of tears, and skipping every song in your library, so be it! Let yourself heal so that you can feel the joy later. Often times, if we look hard enough, our most painful times have threads of happiness woven in. Look for those threads, and when recalling a painful memory, focus on the beautiful moments that shine through the dark.

Now, when my 6 year old requests Rihanna in the car, I can actually listen to "Umbrella", And when I do, I think of her big sister, 20 years ago, her tiny but powerful voice, - and this allows me to appreciate all the notes, right to the beautiful end. Sometimes I even sing along.
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