The Loneliest Number



The word brings with it a musical cavalcade.

One Light, One Sun, One sun lighting everyone . . . .”

In the not-so-very-long-ago days of cassette tapes, we wore out the Raffi oeuvre at roughly twice the pace we exhausted a series of nondescript mom vans.   I need only hear the first four notes to be transported back to four faces, sticky from juice boxes; toddler teeth not yet perfected into gleaming symmetrical smiles; glazed eyes after whipping around a playground, suddenly attentive to and lulled by the familiar music; heads starting to nod as we wound our way home.

“One love
One blood
One life
You got to do what you should
One life
With each other
One life
But we’re not the same
We get to
Carry each other
Carry each other

One . . . .”

Still further back in time, before we were parents, I drove to Cape Cod with Jim, listening to U2 on the radio.  Bonavox, he informed me, was Latin for “good voice.”  “Wait, that’s not his real name?”  A little smile at the corner of his mouth.  (An exceptionally learned man, he was never entirely sure that I knew as little as I knew about some things.)

A glorious single syllable chorus of “One” jars me back to recent May days, when we somehow were both heartbroken and numb:

One singular sensation
Every little step she takes.
One thrilling combination
Every move that she makes . . . .”

Sitting in a darkened school theater weeks after Jim died, as our youngest daughter performed in a spring dance ensemble.  No near-silent clicks from Jim’s camera to capture our daughter, in sparkling black tie, held aloft at the end of an old-style show number; or winding her way along the stage, twirling in ballet shoes; or seemingly in physics-defying flight, like a hummingbird, to the percussive heartbeats of African drums.  All I can catch on my own little camera is an occasional abstract blur.

One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do . . . .”

%d bloggers like this: