Friday, April 23, 2004

Warm Rosy Glow

Alright you pervs, knock it off.


Feelings of Gratitude, Peace, and Readiness for Life

I want to thank all of you for your wonderful comments and emails. All of you said such lovely things and it made me feel less alone. Such a wonderful blog community we have here! I feel so cool to be a part of it. This SO makes up for high school.

Shock of Shocks, I received a sympathy card from my office. You know, the Siberian Work Camp I dream of someday escaping? Popular Office Gal from my 4.8.04 post went out, bought a card, and had just a few people in the office - people that I am closest to - sign it. My heart warmed when I read it. Gee, maybe she does like me! (Insert Sally Field Quote here) My office pals all wrote lovely sentiments. I never would have expected such a thing from that godforsaken place. POG would be thrilled to know that it actually made me feel a little better about heading back to work on Monday. As miserable as I am in that place, there are actually good people sitting in those cubicles... sometimes I forget that. I am so glad to be reminded. You just never know when things like that will happen.

Not only that, I also received one of those Perpetual Mass thingys that Catholics do for the deceased. Basically my Grandma's name has been added to a group of people who are remembered by some nuns who pray for the dead on a regular basis. It's a sweet blessing, and just the sort of thing that my Grandma would truly have appreciated. This nice gesture came from another co-worker - who I guess is Catholic as well! Makes sense, a nice Boston Irish lady. This lady is one of those people who makes my company a better place to work. Again... so heartwarming to be thought of like that.

You can tell I'm not Catholic. Which made me even more surprised when my Mom asked me to sing the Ave Maria at Grandma's funeral. Strangely enough I never once doubted that I would be able to do it. Several people looked alarmed when Mom and I mentioned it. You'd think I would be crying too much to sing. But... of course, I found the place inside myself to sing for my Grandma this one last time. Mom made sure that I sang early in the service. Which was good, because afterward, I did sort of dissolve. But I did it. What an experience.

I don't know where the sound came from. I sang Schubert's Ave Maria - the one most people usually recognize. I had been planning to sing Gounod's, since it's a more dynamic song, and since I once sang it for Grandma and she liked it, but when I opened my mouth in front of all those people, the first note that came out was the Schubert. I thought to myself shit, I started the wrong one, but I decided to go with it. It felt right. It was right.

I have always been told that singers can rely on their technique in performance - and this enables them to focus on things like character, staging, presentation, etc. Well, I had nothing to focus on but my Grandma, our deep bond of love, and my desire for her to hear me across the dimensions of this world and the next. I just sang. I remember taking my time, letting my eyes close, letting my posture slack, letting the sound flow gently out of my mouth. not really performing at all... just singing. What I don't remember is the "work" of singing, the focus on breath, diction, dynamics, etc. I just felt my love and my grief and my joy all wrapped around me, and wove the sounds into that, like a big blanket, a blanket of love to warm me in my grief and warm my grandma's spirit as it moved through us, in the church she devoted her life to. It was one of the most magical experiences I've ever had, and by far the most intimate, even though there were around 100 people there, in a huge 150-year-old cathedral. I felt wanted, loved, and supported there, even though I am a pagan surrounded by Catholics. I guess, after all is said and done, it's me, God, and my family, both here and in the next world, and nothing else matters.

Especially nice was the fact that my ex-husband took Tuesday out of his life to escort me to the funeral, burial, and post-funeral gathering at the big diner in Jersey City where generations of my family have been pigging out for years. I called him Monday night. I don't remember exactly what I said, and I can't remember if I asked him to come before or after he offered to come, but I was so grateful to him for supporting me. I was a bit of a mess after I got the singing out of the way... and he was wonderful. During communion, they played "Be Not Afraid," and I broke down. EH just put his arm around me and held me tight while I sobbed. Immediately following the funeral service, he helped me escape the "receiving line" (who thought this was a wedding!?) so I could sit in the back of the limo and sob, keen, wail, cry, etc. He sat with me the whole time, telling me it was ok to cry, to be mad, that I didn't have to talk to people yet if I didn't want to, that this was my time and my grief and I was entitled to it. At the cemetery, he held me up again. Not only was I still crying, I was also biting my lip trying not to scream in fear as giant bumblebees flew all around us because of all the fresh flowers. Thanks to EH, nobody could tell. My parents had a good laugh when I told them that later.

He's such a good man, and my heart swells with gratitude that he is such a good friend. "Put this one on my tab," I said.

So, after a week of wake, funeral, and gawking at the amazing number of things in Grandma's apartment, my Dad and I realized that today is my Mom's birthday. Since Mom and Dad will be coming out again next month to tackle - and hopefully finish - the job of donating and distributing Grandma's personal effects, we decided to leave the rest of the work (which really means 99% of it) until then and spend today showing Mom a nice 58th birthday.

We took Mom for a nice shi-shi lunch at French Roast on 85th street. You should have seen her savoring the warm chocolate cake. Poor Daddy. Then I subwayed us to midtown and took Mom shopping at August Max Woman. She's a healthily built lady and has a terrible time shopping for herself back home in Illinois. Sadly, the current collections at AMW are 50% dull and 50% garish, but she did find a very nice blue silk sweater which I was thrilled to buy her. Then we all sat in Starbucks and sipped Lattes, gushed about what a bastion of Liberalism New York is and whined about not being able to hear Al Franken's radio show. Lots of hugs and kisses and a few tears when they had to go. We will see each other in a few weeks, but what a week this has been.

Now I am just pooped. I mean I am fucking exhausted. I want to sleep for three days. If the weather sucks this weekend, I just might.

In other news, David's Boyfriend's Show is exactly one and one-third blocks from my apartment. If any of you are planning to attend, email me - drinks at my place at 7!

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