We all need a friend.  Someone to share thoughts with, laugh with, cry with.  Someone who will take the time to be what we need, and who can expect the same from us.  That might be especially true for those of us who face each day not hearing all we used to hear, all we want to hear, and all we need to hear.  I am lucky, I have such friends.
I began losing my hearing in childhood and consider myself lucky in that I can still remember what many of the things I can no longer hear sound like–at least I thought I was lucky until I came across someone who is “Culturally Deaf” (her label) and has tried to convince me that never having experienced sound in the first place is better.  Her thinking, you can’t miss what you have never had.  I guess we all gauge luck in our own way?  And that’s okay–though I will admit that knowing what I am missing makes me sad on occasion, but would I rather have not experienced sound in order to avoid the sadness of loss?  I think I’ll stick to the “It’s better to have heard and lost, than to have never heard at all.” way of thinking. 
And because I have the memory of sounds I no longer can hear, I draw on that memory and am very protective of it.  Sadly, as the years turn into decades, I find some of those memories have faded, but luck is the lady again.  I have people in my life who help me fill in the gaps of faded memory, and take the time to describe what I am missing–I’ve learned to ask.  I’ll admit, those times are never often enough to suit me, but I’ve learned to treasure the occasions when they happen.  In return, I try to describe the things I see for those who describe sound for me.  Things many people miss.  Things only a person who lacks hearing sees.
Several years ago I was in Texas visiting my elderly aunt.  While there, I walked in the mornings, often earlier than the rest of the world was up and about, and on those walks the same friend came to mind as I saw things I wanted to share with him.  At the time, this particular friend seemed convinced life was too serious, he was too old and too devoid of dreams, and too busy to take pleasure in much of anything.  So I sent him a letter to tell him of things I saw on my walks.
Dear Friend,
I’ve been walking early in the mornings during my visit here in Texas, and on the first morning I found a parrot feather.  It is gray with a bright green on the edge.  It was so pretty I couldn’t pass it up, as with most things that please me.  As I bent down to pick it up, I found myself wishing you were here to see it.  I am not sure why I thought that, for I wasn’t thinking of you until that moment?  Maybe I just want to share my happiness with you?  The happiness of simply being mindful of things.  The happiness of looking at the world in the same way that I did as a child.  Maybe that is what we are supposed to be for one another?  I can share with you the things I see, and you can share with me the things you hear?  I am bringing the feather home with me and am saving it for you.  It represents all of the things I see that I want to share with you.
Tell me what you hear.
Tell me of the songbirds serenade.  The symphony of the morning.
Tell me what a chorus of crickets sound like in the evening.  Help me not to forget.
Tell me of the new music you hear and appreciate.  What it means to you.  How it touches your heart.
Tell me what you hear.  Tell me what I’m missing.
And then, I will tell you what I see.
I will tell you of the things that others miss.  Things only a person who lacks hearing sees.
I will tell you of the beautiful sunsets on the beach.  The dance of color in the sky.
I will tell you of the storm clouds on the horizon.  How they are magically illuminated by the setting sun.
I will tell you what I see.  I will tell you what you are missing.
Tell me what you hear, and I will tell you what I see.  Maybe that is the purpose of our friendship?
Take the time to share your view of the world with someone you consider a friend, and be bold and ask your hearing friends to help you experience what they hear.  I can’t think of any better definition of “friendship”.


  1. This is such a beautiful post! Sometimes I round a curve while driving about town and the mountains ahead take my breath away. They’re so beautiful. I’ll never forget the time a couple years ago I was driving to work during a fall windstorm. Right in the midst of the storm, in the middle of my frantic drive to work I was struck by a brilliant yellow leaf jetting around in the wind. At that moment I realized I had passed a milestone of some sort on my Deaf journey. I’m not sure when sights began to induce spiritual experience similar to hearing beautiful music, but it has happened. It seems colors have become brighter, movement more rhythmic, lines and shapes more vivid. There’s an indescribable visual clarity that didn’t exist pre-deafness.

  2. Kim,

    I love your equating the spiritual experience of beautiful music to things seen. You don’t have to be deaf to really see or appreciate a thing, but many who cannot hear have a heightened visual perception and clarity beyond the average hearing person. It was only as an adult that I became aware of all that I am because of losing my hearing. I’ll ever be thankful for the wonderful in my experience.

  3. speakuplibrarian,

    Thanks! By sharing some of my personal experiences of what is wonderful in the midst of the terribleness of deafness, I hope others might give fuel to that spark inside of them that can help give balance to a very difficult and frustrating loss. I’m always encouraged and inspired when I read such accounts of others.

  4. Wanda,

    Your spark is there!! Sometimes it’s just hard to find, not because it is any less present than it always is, but simply because we are in a place where we can’t see it. There have been, and will be again, many times in my life when it seems my “spark” has died. When I least expect it something happens to expose it. I have to believe it never goes out, for if I give up on it, it is like giving up on me because I can’t hear.

  5. I am a member of a lawfirm representing a child that has lost hearing due to overdose of antibiotics. The child has bilateral cochlear implants. We would like the prospective of someone or some family who are familiar with cochlear implants. The drawbacks, the benefits and any other limitations that one would not readily think of with the implants. Are environmental sounds (like sirens, etc.) truly recognized and appreciated? Thank you for any input you can provide.

  6. Kindsey, it’s amazing what we can manage when we focus on what we have instead of what we don’t have. We’ve all read stories about amazing people (or even know them personally) who thrive in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles. The common thread I see in all of these individuals is that they find ways to live their life fully in spite of any barrier life has thrown in their path. It’s an attitude!!

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