a single day in a remarkable journey

Early this morning, well before sunrise, I was up because I had planned to go to Sunrise Service at church.  Had been looking forward to it.  There is something inexplicably peaceful about standing in the cemetery on Easter as the first blush of morning blooms behind the quaint little country church.  There is a knowing that this is real, that what I have believed, what I have based my life on, is true.

Standing there in the cemetery.

But the sound of the pouring rain and knowing that because of it, the service would be held inside the church, changed my mind.

I tooled around the house a bit, restless.  During lulls in the rain, I stood on the back porch, absorbing the heavy, moisture-laden air, smelling the scents that can only be found during springtime in the mountains.  Thinking about things.

As the seemingly random thoughts passed through my mind, I found myself immersed in memory and longing.  It has been over three years since Jim died and I haven’t dreamed of him once.   Now, though, images that have been building over the past few days floated before me in a lovely haze.  Annie’s song.  The bagpiper in the cemetery.  A sharp tux at my first gallery showing.  The painting of the tree in my closet.  Looking back, the signs were there.  I think the memories were likely kindled last week when I was fiddling around with his clarinet.

Out of nowhere, it occurred to me that in all the years we were married, he never played for me.  Not once.

Of course, thinking of such things can do nothing but ruin an otherwise lovely day and I said as much to myself as I turned on the music.  It didn’t matter what kind, just anything would do until, as usual, I migrated to what was on my mind all along.  The melodies and verse filled my mind.  It didn’t stop the memories, though; they came anyway, unbidden and uninvited.   That’s the way of it sometimes.

The more I listened, the more I allowed myself to be carried along as I stepped back, in my mind, in time.  The music continued to play as  background to my thoughts while scenes long past wavered and became clear on the edges of my subconscious.   Jim and I had a great deal in common when it came to music.    It was a huge part of our lives, both a joy and a heartache; a double-edged sword.  At least it was how it seemed to me.

We took something very different away from it.  I shared with him the thoughts and feelings the music evoked; the way it made me want to weep or laugh or scream … to dance in the grass under the light of a full, summer moon … the excitement in the pit of my stomach.  To him, it was only sound and what I was trying to explain made sense only to me.  Seeing it now years later, with eyes unobstructed by grief, I realize I wanted him to want to understand me and was perplexed when he didn’t.

That knowledge chipped away at something vital to my well-being and made me feel foolish and insecure.  It was hurtful.  It wasn’t intentional, but it was still hurtful. I had not yet reached a point in my life when I trusted the way that music made me feel; didn’t realize that it held the same power over me whether anyone else felt it or not. I tried to bury, or at least quiet, the discombobulating range of emotion that it evoked in me … but the music was just too powerful.

It still is.  It will always be.  I not only know and understand what it can do to me, but embrace it and that in itself is freeing, like falling through the air.  Through his indifference, not just about music, but other things, came encouragement to find my own skin and be comfortable in it.    To everything, there is a season.

Memories teach me many things … for one, life goes on … my past doesn’t change, but my perception of it often does.  God takes the pieces that seem out of place and puts them in perspective.  Even with its ups, downs, doses of reality, complexities and melancholic rantings, life really is quite remarkable.  There is enough joy and wonder to balance out the rest if we embrace it.


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