fieldsofgarlic (fieldsofgarlic) wrote,

A Helen Hill Song

Like many people I know, I'm spending a lot of my time lately thinking about Helen Hill and her senseless death. There are so many aspects. First, there is Helen herself and the waves of loss that hit her husband and son the hardest, then her family and close friends, then her acquaintances, then those who only met her or whose children played with her son. The ripples go out farther and farther, their impact diminishing as they go, but being felt nevertheless. There will always be a painful emptiness where Helen once was.

Beyond Helen herself, there was the incredible impact she'd had and was continuing to have. Her good work for needy people was something many of us wish we would do, but don't. And her art, her films, her whimsical (and sometimes gently tricky) expressions were also worthy of aspiration. Luckily, we still have all this, her legacy and our memories; it's the part of her that didn't and won't ever die.

And then there's the crime. My mother is terribly worried for my safety. She wonders why Ana and I can't live somewhere safer. If I really didn't care about my beloved New Orleans, I would probably pack up and go. But some things are worth fighting for. When I moved to this city in the early nineties, crime was brutally high then too. But things changed and the crime rate came down. I know it can happen again. I refuse to live in fear, but it still tugs at all of us who live here now.

Behind the crime, there's the sad fact that while many of us in society can and do weave a beautiful, if imperfect, fabric of trust and interdependence, there are some--a growing number, I fear--who are not a part of this. There are far too many reasons for this. In every neighborhood, children are disenfranchised every day, in many ways. Their hearts harden at a young age and before long they are isolated--not in our arms, as they each should be. I don't know how, but if we don't find a way to reach these children, it will be at both their peril and ours.

Today is Helen's memorial service in South Carolina. For the last few days, I have been working on a song about her. Here's a quick recording I made of it:



The words and chords are as follows:

Helen [Am]Hill was shot and [C]killed
In her [Am]own home last [F]night
On the [C]fourth day of a [G]new year
That [E7]still seemed so [Am]bright
Her [F]dreams were cut [C]short
When that [E7]nightmare creeped [Am]in
And [F]took sweet [C]Helen
From her [G]family and [C]friends

Helen [Am]Hill was shot and [C]killed
For no [Am]reason we [F]know
She [C]fought and she [G]pleaded
But he [E7]still laid her [Am]low
[F]Down went the [C]kindness
[E7]Down went the [Am]care
[C]Out went the [G]love
With her [F]last breath of [Am]air

I [Am]dreamed I [C]saw
[Am]Helen Hill last [F]night
She was [C]smiling and [G]shining
Like a [E7]heavenly [Am]light
Bright [F]words she was [C]sewing
Right [E7]into the [Am]sky
[F]Flickering in [C]starlight,
"[G]I didn't [C]die."

Helen [Am]Hill was shot and [C]killed
A dear [Am]mother and [F]wife
The [C]last thing she [G]ever did
Was to [E7]save her boy's [Am]life
So [F]what are we [C]made of
If we [E7]don't do our [Am]best
To [C]reach into the [G]darkness
And [F]save all the [Am]rest?


If you like it, please feel free to play it and share it.
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