Thursday, April 24, 2014


Why is today unlike any other day? My personal ritual question since my mother’s passing over. The answer? I drove to Walnut Creek to pick up her ashes at the Trident Society.

I was fine entering the office, doing okay when the plastic box came in and I took the envelope with her wedding ring that we had forgotten to remove. I kept it together while the office person gave me the death certificate and when I had to sign my name on a piece of paper. But the first sign of tears came when I had to fill out the line “Relationship to deceased” and I wrote the word “son.”

Never again will anybody call me that.

I waited until I got into the car to let the tears flow freely. I know it will be like this for a while, perhaps the rest of my life. Some small marker of the depth of what has passed will tap me on the shoulder unexpectedly and the grief will blossom full force.

And why not? Why should anyone be proud of “keeping it together” when the situation calls for mourning? Why is “fine” the norm? Who decided that? When we live in the depth of our passion, in full presence and awakened attention, fine is just weird. Joy, grief, belly laughs, shouted outrage are all the emotions du jour. Yeah, I know it’s hard to sustain that level of intensity and really, who wants to be around it all the time? We also need just coasting, lightening up, fine in the repertoire and probably for more hours than the others. But I will say that driving back, the green of the hills were just a bit greener, the sparkling waters of the Bay a bit more sparkly, the Bach I had playing felt like it was lifting me over the beautiful new Bay Bridge toward the resplendent San Francisco skyline. My Mom’s box of ashes on the front seat next to me, Life and Death riding side-by-side and the world awakened a few notches higher.

1 comment:

  1. Turnaround

    Sadness repeats its sickly soft refrain
    Without which Being feels so out of tune;
    I cannot help but wonder when, again,
    Or what, will cause the song to stop, rough hewn
    With syncopated ax by mine own hand
    They cannot, will not, dare not understand.

    But comes a time apart to hear old melodies
    Beloved, joyful; shaping new from old;
    White crested waves blow in from endless seas;
    While shells of laughter wash in on beaches cold.

    Listen, my heart, to music shared, don't wait
    For relentless themes that refuse to yield control;
    With each wave comes the chance to recreate
    And orchestrate the music of your soul.

    I was thinking of you today; one of the teachers I most respect in the world. I wish we could talk so I could explain why I was so strange and unable to meet your expectations. Nonetheless, this is I think the best thing I have produced. Written Dec. 2013 in Boston, during a snowstorm. Please don't reproduce it without asking. Jean


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