20 05 2013

Possibly a series of disconnected thoughts today. Or not really disconnected, but connected on some sort of quantum physics level that I can’t easily describe. Which is one of the reasons that I write at all, to tease out and show the shining threads that run through everything even when it feels like random crap is falling out of the sky. Nothing in my head is linear this morning. I have my own mental variety of 12-dimensional chess going on today, and all I can do is grab pieces and images as they make themselves known.

The month of May. Fraught. I think I’ve mentioned that. As I’m going through it, feeling the ache and pressure inside my heart and mind, the near-certainty that just One More Thing is going to bring on the tears… I can also feel another part of my brain sneering: “Aren’t you over this yet? How long do you think you can use this as your go-to for whining? Just invoke your precious grief response and you get to explain away everything. Other people have to cope. How come you think you get a free pass?”

Last week. A particularly demanding week inside of a month in which I was already frayed. Work demands have increased significantly as a number of projects reach deadlines; similarly, reaching a deadline of sorts with my chorus, as we came up on multiple concert performances. Many late meetings. Many rehearsals. Lots of driving through what genuinely seems like endless and increasing construction between Illinois and Milwaukee. A friend in Milwaukee generously offered to let me stay with her through concert weekend, saving me hours of driving and stress. Getting to concert weekend was the problem, though, and by Friday I was coming undone so badly that I very sincerely considered going home and hiding for the next two days.

Intervention. Dealing with someone who was as badly undone as I was on Friday can be daunting. Who wants to be around that kind of sadness? There were those that walked away – which, when you’re already a mess, just adds to the sorrow and the negative self-talk inside your head. I was literally within minutes of walking back out to my car and driving home when another alto waded into this mess and held me as I cried. Those minutes when I let go and she held on saved me.

My chorus family. How to describe what they are in my life. While chorus rehearsals and getting to them can be exhausting, the shared experience I have with this group of people is profoundly meaningful at the deepest levels of my heart. When my husband died, and I asked if some of them could come and sing at his memorial, over 60 of them came through the church doors. On a weekday afternoon, and I know they have jobs and commitments and most of them live over 50 miles away… and yet, they came because I asked. There will never be enough words in any language for what they did, what I felt, what I still feel. So much around that time is a blur of grief and tears. Within that, though, are incandescent memories, as clear as if they were happening at this moment.


Our concert this time was the Brahms Requiem. It is, without question, my most-loved piece of choral music. The Latin requiem text is about the dead, death to judgment to heavenly glory… Brahms instead turns to those who have been left, and tells them that they will be comforted. In my current month of May state, every time I’ve entered this beautiful piece has been a new emotional journey. I am so tired of mourning, and yet, I am told that I am blessed in my grief. And because I love this piece so much, I can hear it and for that time accept it. The final movement of the piece, theoretically about the dead, is instead for me the place that says it’s okay to let them go. They have a good and safe and joyous place to be. It is good and blessed to miss those who have left. It is also good and blessed to let them go and to continue living.

One of my favorite songs of the last few years is “Home”. It’s corny and sweet and every time makes my eyes fill with the memory of feeling that kind of security and attachment to someone. I miss my husband. I miss how I felt with him, what the world seemed like when he was still here. There was a framework, a structure and definition about who I was and who we were, that I never thought about until it was gone. He was home even before we got engaged. Home is different now.

I call them my chorus family. Or sometimes just family. And I also call them home sometimes. I stayed with my friend in Milwaukee over the weekend. She has this wonderful apartment, full of books and music and furniture that doesn’t match but all goes together. And also a cat who wants only her, and the rest of the world can go to hell…I am emphatically a cat person, and yet he was utterly unimpressed with my cat vibes, and made it a point to fluff up dramatically and hiss if I came near.

My friend gave me home for a weekend. Not just a place to stay, but a place in her life and time. So much time. Both mornings this weekend we had breakfast with other people from the chorus – time to have coffee and French toast (omigod, the French toast…) and conversation. So much time laughing and listening. My May condition apparently doesn’t involve a huge need to talk – but it can be soothed by the warm and generous hearts I was with this weekend. They brought me into their loving embrace and kept me there for two full days.

Grief can feel isolating. It is nearly incomprehensible it its depth, and the words that I can squeak out – “I miss him” – sound stupid and shallow in my own ears. And yet. In that isolation, I forget how much people want to care, how much they will care if you’ll just let them. While I’m busy trying to sort and stack and make sense – my friends just want to listen. They’ll even listen to me sort and stack. And then they’ll tell me I’m normal. They can bring me home.




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