The Sounds of Silence

 (Dear ‘Rati Friends,

My husband, Bruce, died yesterday morning, slipping away peacefully in my arms. How can a heart be so full and so shattered at the same time? My words run dry. I had written the following blog post several days ago, unaware that I would have no time to do it today. And unaware that “the other shoe” I was referencing was already dropping. And that my husband’s voice is the sound that isn’t there. Give yourselves a hug today, and send one my way, as well.)


By Louise Ure


Our days are usually filled with sound. Voices, traffic, music, TV, individual ringtones, jackhammers, birds, pots and pans clanging, a dog’s whine. It’s a cacophony that we’ve become used to, an ordered and expected series of sounds that define our day.

Some sounds are more sudden but less common—squealing brakes, a crash of thunder, a child’s cry– but recognizable enough as part of our world.

In my last blog post I used the phrase “waiting for the other shoe to drop” and it’s that thought—the absence of expected sound–that I was thinking about this week, and how that applies to both lives and our writing.

The term seems to have originated in the mid-20th century, descriptive of a man in a downstairs apartment who is awakened nightly by his upstairs neighbor removing his shoes and dropping them heavily on the floor. The first shoe hits the floor with a loud bang, awakening the sleeping tenant in the lower apartment, who would remain awake until he heard the other shoe drop. In the story my head, (British television? Mid-century American radio?) the upstairs tenant once remembered that he had a sleeping neighbor below, and after dropping the first shoe, took the second shoe off and carefully placed it on the floor, making no noise. The groggy neighbor would then yell, “For God’s sake, drop the other shoe!”

It is the absence of expected sound—the absence of an expected ritual—that gives the phrase such a frisson of power.

In literature, no one used it better than Conan Doyle in the story “Silver Blaze,” which hinged on the famed “curious incident of the dog in the night-time”:


Scotland Yard Detective: “Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?”

Holmes: “To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.”

Detective: “The dog did nothing in the night-time.”

Holmes: “That was the curious incident.”


The sound that wasn’t there.

I can imagine other actions and plot points that would tweak that tendon waiting for an expected outcome. A slap, but no sound of surprise or pain. What’s going on in there? Is the victim gagged? Is the victim used to such abuse? Or is it nothing more that the thumping swat of a buzzing fly?

A crash outside in the street, but no horns or sirens or voices raised in alarm. Are they dead inside the car? Is the town deserted? Or was it simply a parking brake that didn’t hold on the steep hill?

Like a bolt of lightening without a following peal of thunder, the absence of sound can be as intriguing as what is there. And that goes for dialogue, too. Like real life, what’s left unsaid is sometimes the most important language of all.

What about you ‘Rati out there? Who do you think does a good job of leaving things unsaid, like a shoe waiting to be dropped, in films or books?


62 thoughts on “The Sounds of Silence

  1. kit

    My deepest condolances to you and your family at this time, you’ll be in my thoughts and prayers as you have been. kit

  2. Vicky McAulay

    You have my deepest sympathies. It will take great strength and courage for you to go on after this devastating blow. A dear friend of mine went through a similar crisis with the death of her husband to cancer and she has found help with a support group of women who also lost their husbands. Those of us close to her tried to help, but no one truly understands unless you’ve lived through it.

  3. Karen in Ohio

    What an eloquent way to describe your loss, even before it was fully realized, Louise.

    Your hug is on its way, and I hope it helps, even the tiniest bit, to know that a total stranger in Ohio is grieving along with you in your time of loss. Peace, my dear.

  4. PK the Bookeemonster

    Oh Louise, I am so sorry for your loss. I truly believe those who pass are with us more than ever with greater love and understanding for us than they could ever fathom before and feel sorry that we are still stuck on this side. My love and prayers are yours.

  5. Laura DiSilverio


    I’m so sorry for your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family in your grief.

  6. Erin R.

    I am so very sorry for your loss, Louise. I am another total stranger/reader who has only recently discovered this blog…but I am saddened by your loss. I hope the caring of family, friends…and even cyber-family & friends is some comfort to you in this unimaginable time.

  7. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    I’m hugging you now, I’ll be hugging you all day, I’ll be hugging you tomorrow and the next day and the next. I won’t let go, Louise.

  8. Viva

    When we lose someone we love, we lose a part of ourselves. Sending you a big hug, Louise. It’s difficult for writers to accept, but there are times when words let us down. This is one of those times.

    "Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal."

  9. Susan

    What an incredible difference one single life has made.

    I believe there is power in the collective thought process, so I join my warmest thoughts your way….close you eyes, can you feel them?…..

  10. Sandy

    Yesterday morning, Louise, you were in the company of angels. Know that he is okay. Breathe in all the good thoughts and hugs being sent your way.

  11. Twist

    Dearest Louise,

    I am so sorry to hear of your loss. My thoughts are with you during this sad time.



  12. Shane Gericke

    Oh, Louise, please accept my condolences for your terrible loss. I’m so sorry to hear about this, and I will be thinking about you and him in the days ahead.

  13. Judy Wirzberger

    Now I know why it rained yesterday and keeps on raining. I was so lucky to have met Bruce.
    Do you have someone notifying friends of arrangements. Please add me to the list.
    My dear Louise. The silence is deafening.

    All my love. Judy

  14. Ev

    Dear Louise,

    My deepest condolences. I was touched by how you generously shared the love you and your husband had for each other with all of us here–it was quite the love. May it be a comfort to you now.


  15. Robin of My Two Blessings

    My thoughts and prayers go out to you. Even though we don’t know each other personally, I have gotten to know you virtually through your posts. Sending a cyberhug your way. Praying your guardian angel wraps you in his comfort and love and gives you strength.

  16. Allison Davis

    Louise, the only way I can deal with grief is to be useful. If I can be useful to you in any way, please allow me that privilege.

    Adding to the collective love, standing with you in your sorrow, giving you strength, and hugs. much love.

  17. Susan Shea

    Ah, Louise, Hugs, definitely and fiercely, and my willingness to do anything. Don’t forget to breathe deeply. I’m serious – your body grieves, too. xx Susan

  18. Judy Wirzberger

    Been thinking about you all day. hope you have some frozen lemons to throw when you have the energy. love love love

  19. Martha

    What a terrible loss. I grieve for you.

    When the summer comes I will think of you and your husband with each popsicle. The thoughts will be of the love you shared.

  20. Barbie

    I got all choked up reading this post and I don’t even know you.

    I’m sending a million hugs to you all the way from Brazil (Brazilian hugs are one of the best in the world, didn’t you know?)


  21. Andi

    My dear sweet friend, I hurt for you so and I’m so so sorry. I will miss Bruce and i mourn his passing. I had a good sense what you meant to each other.
    Stu and I send you our love and hugs.

  22. Madeleine Butler

    Louise, what terribly sad news. A huge hug for you, both now and in the months ahead. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you. I have free time and I’d be happy to help you in any way I can.

  23. Cornelia Read

    Sweet Louise… words fail. I adore you, and am blessed to have spent time with Bruce. May you be comforted by the love we all have for you, which is a lot of love and much deserved.

  24. Berenmind

    Damnitalltohell Louise. I take my eyes off my computer for one day and a life falls away. I just opened the blog and I am gut gored. You know this. I am so pissed that I am gone.

    But it is over. The worst part. And you got through.

    At first there is a lot to do. A lot of people to deal with. Your friends will help. Let them. It lessens their pain and helplessness.

    You will be ill. You will be unable to sleep and then you will want to sleep forever. Whatever comes up…….In the words of the immortal God Nike………just do it.

    The next part is bad. It is scary. It is confusing. You will ask yourself hard questions. What was my life for? Did I do it right? Will I do the rest of it right? Do I care? Will I be alone? Such a long road ahead.

    It will be quiet.

    Then. It will all go on with or without you. Please let it be WITH you.

    Querida Hermana. Que Dios consuele tu corazon en estos momentos dificiles. Quisieru estar ahi, mis oraciones estan contigo.


  25. Stacy McKitrick

    Like others, I too missed yesterday’s post and was saddened to see it on Robert’s. I am sorry for your loss. I can’t even imagine what you must be going through. Hopefully your friends will be much comfort for you.

  26. J. Carson Black

    Louise, like so many others, I can only imagine how you are feeling now. I am so sorry.

    You and Bruce are in my thoughts and prayers.

  27. Yasmine Jameson

    My condoloences to you. I am sorry for your loss. Nothing I say will make it better. So I am praying for you and for your family.


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