The rain was audible—the thunder and lightning hard to ignore—but it was the singing voice that held our attention. Stuck inside until the storm passed—he played on.
Each song spoke to me—not his own words, his own melodies, but the ones he chose—of other beloved music. Each lyric pierced my heart—reminded me of the loss that had started to fade to a dull, occasional pang.
I hadn’t been back to camp since the loss. So many memories. I pushed them back mostly—until the concert went on through the storm. It was the music that got me. Appropriate, really.
I was hardly conscious of the tears beginning to well up—a friend turned to me, “Are you crying?” more a confirmation, an understanding, than a question. I shook my head. “Not even a little?” I nodded, perhaps smiled, put my finger and thumb together, “Maybe a little,” I acquiesced. I guess it was the permission I needed to actually start to tear. I didn’t let myself fully go, no need to let everyone see that, especially not the kids. But I cried enough. I let myself remember. It had been a while, really, since thoughts of him had made me sad.
As the rain continued to tap out its own rhythm on the ceiling, as the lighting let up the night sky, as the thunder boomed in the background, the music brought my mind to another song, one that went unsung that night:
Even now, as I hear those first notes, I’m brought back to the moment at the funeral when that same singer played them on his guitar. And hearing them then brought on a slideshow in my mind, of every single service I had been to where the melody was used for Mi Chamochah—pictures of NFTY events, of camp, of the tron, of the Beit Am, of Kutz, of Eisner, of random sanctuaries, and scattered social halls. I believe, that just for a moment, a part of my being was sitting in the Tron—and I’m certain that piece of me wasn’t alone. For as my body remained at the funeral, I heard the cries and wails of others—my friends, my colleagues, my kids. I knew that a similar slideshow played for them—that their souls were sitting on benches in the tron, too.
I have come to realize that redemption from grief comes slowly. And that the freedom to allow for remembering, for memory, is powerful. My recognition of that started that evening at the extended concert, and the process has continued. And while sometimes I hear those notes and feel a pang of sadness, more often, I find myself smiling. Comforted by the music that’s become part my life’s soundtrack. Smiling at the memories of what once was.