I have heard it said that in 7 years, a person’s whole body – every bit of it, down to the cellular (and perhaps beyond) level – is replaced in that time by a new set of cells, ready to take on the task of the day to day life of being human. But what of the soul?
I’ve returned from some magical travels to a more equatorial part of the world with my beloved, and have landed amidst the mud and mire of early spring back home. Normally a joyful season for most folk, what with the coming of green things and the promise of new fawns in the bulging bellies of the local mama deer, early spring has, in fact, proved challenging for us over the years. This year marks the 7th anniversary of Esme’s death which was a sea change in the lives of both of my children, in our own lives as parents, and in the collective life of an entire close-knit community. Not to mention, her dear family. Everything is now measured against this tragic event. And in March, we are called back to the season to take stock, re-visit ourselves and our losses and re-calibrate our lives to a certain extent.
And so we did.
Es’s weeping cherry tree in Spring Grove Cemetery is thriving. Under the now formidable presence of the tree, little offerings of love and memory are present….
We were glad to see them.
Madeleine and I drove around the cemetery just to take in the beauty and the years of memorials present there. It’s breathtaking, the number of stories held by this place. Just the names and birthdates alone get you thinking, ‘ Why did this person die so young?’ Or maybe even, ‘wow, that guy sure lived a long and hearty life for the time!’. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to any of it.
There really doesn’t.
It was strange that M. was home for Esme’s anniversary as it was only to mark the passing of another family friend, the loving mama of a dance friend of her’s. Lucinda, a wonderfully witty, thoroughly engaging fellow dance mom I’d known over the years, passed away from cancer, leaving behind a kid just a year younger than my own, amongst many others she loved and whom cherished her.
We are all heartbroken.
And so from memories of one to memorializing another, March seems to be funeral season. We are all glad we have each other.
Amidst all of this funeriality, I was called upon to play some music with friends at the wake of someone dear to them. And so we did.
It was fascinating to me to see the effect of the presence live music has in the environment of grief. Music, especially live music, seems to punctuate the moments of celebration of a long life well lived, while simultaneously allowing for the pauses for tearful acknowledgement of great loss to a tune perhaps more in the minor key, or slowed down enough to capture the depth of that loss. I was honored to play a small part in all of it.
And today, M and I attended Lucinda’s funeral. And then made our way back up to Columbus to plant her back at school where she belongs.
Like I said, it’s been a heavy season.
But every edge has two sides. Alongside the grief in recent days, was a fair amount of hope-full worry in our family, which has thankfully come to a bright and beautiful homecoming.
Our nephew, wee Frank came to us on Monday, just over a week ago. He arrived early, amidst some worry as to The State Of Things regarding how he was faring. Sure enough he had a bit of a struggle for a number of days as he caught his breath from his early oncoming. Eventually, thanks to the tremendously brave parenting and caregiving he was fortunate to receive, Frank went home to get to know his siblings. Things, for perhaps just one wild moment, seemed completely right with the world…. (though in this shot, Big Brother Harry might not be so sure. I’ve heard he’s come ’round in the mean time. )
This is the crazy balance of it all. Walking the knife’s edge of life’s beauty and heartbreak. Making time for all of this Big Life Stuff, while trying to fit the work of Making a Living, or perhaps even Getting a Little Art Made, into the grooves of life’s floorboards.
Even though I didn’t feel quite up to it with these recent heavy days, I met up with some fellow sketchers to challenge the blustery breeze of Esme’s day with some drawing downtown. Christina had invited a few of us to join her while WCET filmed her segment for a show on her work. I can’t wait to see it, and of course share it with you, as her work is fabulous. Sketching is a strong part of her work and we all enjoy sketching together. In spite of the chill, we all managed a sketch of Music Hall, as well as some lively conversation…
Why is it always a lesson? That making the time and effort for some music and some art, are the things that make sense of a difficult season? Perhaps because I am only human and by that I mean, I have still much to learn. This is the development of the Soul.
It is March. I have many hours to make up at the Shop and many, many more hours to make up to my own solitude and writing and sketching of new ideas. In times like these when life comes at us reckless, I wonder, how do they do it? The successful ones. Those produced, published, and promoted.
Perhaps they just stomp the work into the floorboards of life, between the moments of birth and grief. I have heard that music happens between the notes. Perhaps I am onto something…