No Known Words

I’ve wanted to tell you something. At least to make some kind of record of this shift, these seismic waves.

As a songwriter, I’m pretty much an open book. The songs I record and perform are almost entirely autobiographical, literal and, I hope, conversational. I often joke that I’m not very imaginative and half-joke that I’m too self-involved to write any other way – but I like it that way. It gives me somewhere to put all these internal thoughts, step back and learn from them; to ask you a great big “know what I mean, bean?” and, thankfully, hear your reply.

At least when This Whole Thing is working well that’s what we get – you and me understanding each other better and feeling a little less lonely than we did before.

I love that about us, about this musician life.

When I released “The Wedding Singer and The Undertaker” I chose to be public about one of the experiences that were so deeply woven into those songs and their recordings – the death of my first son Emmett. That was a hard decision to make. I wanted so much to not be alone with it, but I also know how quickly information is misshaped and misused and I worried that it might be just too personal and vulnerable for me to share; that I would be too sensitive to weather any backlash.

For the most part, I never regretted the admission. Because of it, women came to shows and stayed to tell me their stories of losing a child. More stories came in letters from women across Canada. I cherish those. Also came a handful of very meaningful experiences with media who were open and respectfully uninhibited when asking me about it (Sook Yin Lee and the producers of Definitely Not The Opera and Alex Varty from The Georgia Straight for example).

When my son Ford was born in 2009, I didn’t “make it public” explicitly. I sent out word of this video of me performing at 8 months pregnant, and mentioned that I was taking a hiatus, without being specific… I was cautious, and caught up in this little person’s life.

I kept the news of our small family close until his first birthday when I posted the blog “what I’ve really been doing for the past year”. At that point I was starting to perform again, to look outward again. I was ecstatic to be booked at the Winnipeg Folk Festival – attending as an audience member has been a lifelong desire, much less as a performer! Hot damn, I love festivals.

Things were looking good.

Ford died unexpectedly in July. I canceled my performance at the WFF, and subsequent other dates. As verbose as I can be, I have few words for this time. In fact, the words don’t exist. Not in English anyway.

But because I’m still getting your sweet emails of “congrats on the baby!” I had to let you know. That, and the whole business mentioned above about us being less lonely.

At this moment, I know one thing to be true: life is absurd. I’m still making music and when I’m ready I’ll be back on the road. In the meantime, I’m tending to small projects and distractions – a couple being the stuff of the last two blog posts – and alternately trying and not trying to get by. There is a lot of crying to be done.

He said it best when he said “so it goes”.

So it goes,



  1. Just read it again… Praying…

    This is copied from somewhere I cannot find again.

    “What I believe to be true of what really transpires are human beings experiencing their divinity in a communion of souls. In those moments, no known words in any language can even begin to shed light on the unfolding miracle. How do you explain the beauty in a sunrise? Or, your first kiss with someone you love deeply? Even as I write this, I’m struggling to communicate with words an explanation for an experience that transcends our humanness.”

    or the pain you feel for someone…

  2. Here it is..a year and a half later…I am revisiting and reading of a pain that I cannot imagine Thank you for sharing this something so personal, Christa.

    Still, it is a pain that I share for you…with you.

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