As many of you know, my mom passed away this last Tuesday morning. My Facebook page has been flooded with condolence notices. Tuesday was a busy day, with having to finish up some of the arrangements my brother had already made at the funeral home, then to the church to start planning mom's Celebration of Life service, then lunch with my brother and my niece (who was very close to mom), then an appointment in the afternoon that I didn't wish to postpone, then the kids and I had our usual Tuesday dinner followed by their choir rehearsal. On Wednesday, as I got on the freeway, I realized I could not go into work and turned around and went home. I spent the day writing drafts of my mom's biography, writing her obituary, scanning pages out of the hymnal that she used to sing to me from, and finally, just writing about how I was feeling.
But never, in these last few days, have I allowed music to be part of this grieving process.
Music, to me, is not just something I enjoy: it is part OF me. And mostly because of my mother. After all, it was her love of sacred choral music that started me on the path that I continue to be on. If it hadn't been for her influence (which was never intentional on her part), I would not have sung in the Pacific Chorale. I would not be on the Board of Directors for Choral Arts Initiative. I would not have even met and married my wife.
So, why have I not allowed myself to bring music into my grieving process?
I don't know. But, this morning, I decided to listen to the lush and haunting "Lux Aeterna", composed by Morten Lauridsen and sung so beautifully by the Los Angeles Master Chorale under the inspired direction of the late Paul Salamunovich. Lauridsen himself composed this in response to his own mother's passing.
As soon as the music started this morning, I began to feel the need to weep.
You see, for me, it's not just that music is a part of me. I have, over the years, found specific pieces of music to resonate with what I may be feeling or thinking of at the time. And as those notes began to play, as the wonderful LAMC began to sing their opening statement, Lauridsen's music resonated with me as well. It reached into that area that I had been closing off, and gently pulled it out.
Tomorrow is my birthday, and while I don't feel too much like celebrating, I also feel that I need to continue, yet not disregard or diminish my need to mourn. I am not, by nature, a mourner. But it is through music that my soul often finds the wordless expression of what I am feeling at that moment.