Devastated by the deaths of her three daughters on Jan. 1, 2004, Debbie Mayer vowed she'd never sing again.
That conviction lasted about two weeks, when some musician friends came to comfort her.
"At the time, the four of us sang worship songs to God, and I had to do it," she said. "That's the way I cry out to God. It's like telling myself I'm never going to talk again, that I'm never going to pray again. ... It's part of who I am. It's why God made me."
Tonight, Mayer, her family, friends and supporters will celebrate the release a CD of her music, "Eternity Calls," inspired by faith, loss and healing.
The Mayer sisters -- Krista, 19, Nikki, 17, and Jessica, 12, -- died four years ago when their car smashed head-on into a minivan just east of Willmar, Minn. They were running late driving from their home in New Brighton to a bridal party for their brother, Joey.
The CD also includes a DVD with music videos of the songs "I Can Still See Your Face" and "Beautiful Departure," written and performed by Joey Mayer and his wife, Bree, and a documentary about the Mayers' story.
The CD project has been on her mind for 30 years, Mayer said, but the time was never right to invest the time and money it would require.
Then, shortly after the girls' deaths, a friend offered free studio time, and that's what really got the project moving, Mayer said.
About half of the songs were written before the girls died, Mayer said. "The other half I wrote while working through my grief, and remembering the girls, and crying out to God."
Her hope is to reach out to grieving families and tell them that there's more than just this life.
"My main message is that we're eternal beings, that this life is not just about what happens here," she said. "For my girls, when they died, their life in Christ didn't end. It wasn't even interrupted. It continued, and they're continuing to grow in their life, and I believe that will happen for all of us."
Maria Elena Baca • 612-673-4409