Lips at My Pillow – by Gael Hannan

Lipreading Mom’s Note: I first heard of writer, actor, and public speaker Gael Hannan when she spoke at the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) convention a couple of years ago. Many who attended said that Gael’s presentation was their favorite—witty, wise, and fun. Next month, she will present via Skype to my local HLAA chapter. I am thrilled to have Gael guest blog for today.

Lips at My Pillow

In the soft grey of not-quite-day

His sweet-sour breath pats my cheek in puffs of soundless words.

Drowsy, I pull his 5-year-old mouth to my ear.

“Mommy can I get up now?”

My grunt is taken for a yes, and I feel the vibrations of his feet

Quickly thump-thump-thumping out of the room.

Turning on the pillow I see you with

Eyes closed, and lips smiling at mother and son.

Your lips move.

Answering, I feel my voice in my throat –

“Morning, love.”

You fall back asleep and I watch you,

Your face, your lips, your deep voice so easy to understand.

As I watch your strong silent lips

I remember another dawn when I saw them say

“Let’s get married.”

I made you mouth it again and again

To be sure I understood, to give the right answer.

Your lips –

I can read their every nuance, they tell me everything.

When you are about to make a joke

When a kiss is blowing my way

When they tighten in anger

And soften in love.

I can ‘read’ you and our son – this language I know.

But should I lose the last shred of sound

Your voices will remain in my ears.

I will always understand you –

Through your smiles, your eyes, your hands and your arms

I will always have your touch …here…and here…

And every dawn I will have

Your lips at my pillow.

-Gael Hannan

About Gael

Photo courtesy of

Gael Hannan spends most of every day focusing on Eyes, Ears and Lips.  Wherever she goes and whatever she does, she uses her eyes-ears-and-lips to connect with the eyes-ears-and-lips of others.  Her goal is simple to communicate well, even with her severe hearing loss.

Gael is a Canadian hearing health advocate who believes that hearing loss has no borders.  She is passionate about the need for society to recognize the impact of hearing loss on its people – and for those same people to take responsibility for their own good communication.

Telling stories is the basis of Gael’s work, and her humorous and knowledgeable writing about the hearing loss life has gained her a wide following.  She writes the Better Hearing Consumer weekly blog for the prominent website, and consumer columnist for the Canadian Hearing Report.  She developed employment manuals for the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association and The Canadian Hearing Society, as well as the Hearing Foundation of Canada’s Sound Sense hearing loss prevention program for elementary school students.

Gael is a sought-after speaker for her witty and insightful performances, including Unheard Voices and EarRage!, award-winning solo shows that illuminate the profound impact of hearing loss on a person’s life which Gael presents to audiences across North America.  She serves on the national board of the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association and is a recipient of the Consumer Advocacy Award from the Canadian Association of Speech Language Pathologists and Audiologists.

Gael Hannan lives in Toronto with her husband (who has turned into an excellent communicator) and her son (who is now 16 and who no longer asks permission to do anything).


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