I sang the niggun "Haida" often while I was pregnant with Halia, especially in the car on the way to pick up G from school. I wish I could remember how I got in that habit, but I think it had to do with one of the names we were considering for Eagle, a name that rhymes with "haida." I probably put the name to the melody, as a way to test out the name, but those memories have faded.

A niggun is usually defined as a wordless melody, but most nigguns I know have specific sounds that go with them-- nonsensical words like lei-lei-lei or lei-di-dee-die-dee or bim-bam. As far as I know this is the only niggun with "haida" in it.

 Like most nigguns, "Haida" is in a minor key but it can be quite upbeat. It has a great capacity to be whatever I want it to be -- mournful and slow one day, upbeat and strongly rhythmical another. I sing it now in many settings -- on a solitary walk back from a visit to Halia's grave, in the company of other people who know it simply as a cool round, or in a playful manner to entertain A who likes its rhythm. Tonight, as I was writing, I listened to some versions on YouTube, and G stopped to ask what I was listening to and then started singing along too.

I am not always ready to sing "Haida" because it tends to loosen the hardened edges of my grief and bring on tears. It surprises me with the tenderness it evokes, the sweet memories of singing to my girl, of imagining a future for her. And yet, it is so much bigger than those memories and associations. It is a folk song that is timeless and universal, and it never ceases to fill me with a deep gratitude for the power of song.


Day 15 of 31, 12 Cheshvan 5774