I’ve started to say that Mom passed away last year. As opposed to “December,” “[X] months ago” or “recently.” Maybe because it does feel like a new year. The garden is bursting forth with life. We are already sweating during hot afternoons. Tucson has been sweltering the last few days- an early summer, it seems. Already, we have broken 100 degrees, and my shoulders are burned from long, slogging jogs with Bruno. The cold rains and short daylight hours that colored my Mom’s last days seem like a long time ago, seasonally speaking.
I’m playing harp more than I have in years. My dear friend Kathy is getting married on Saturday, and I am providing the music during the ceremony. These days, I’m practicing furiously to try to rework rusty pieces and learn a few new ones too. My sheet music is totally disorganized, and in between the loose papers I have old recital programs, notes from my harp instructors… even an old bus schedule, circa 1999, which would bring me from South Minneapolis to St. Paul, where I studied in college.
Music speaks to the core of all of us, provides a soundtrack to our life. This is especially so if you are a musician. I work through this repertoire from 10+ years ago, and I feel the heat from the stage lights shining down on me, blinding me to the audience present. I feel the anguish of my failures– for some reason, those are more vivid in my mind than my successes. When I play these old pieces, I also remember my mom sticking her head into my room when I was practicing. She’d beam an encouraging smile and exclaim “I just love that song!” or “Sounding really good!” I feel her hugs after my recitals, hear her voice on the end of the line asking “how did it go!?!” when I’d call her after completing my juried performances.
The notes, the rhythms connect me to the past in a palpable way. I play these songs and again am transported back to an earlier time. Maybe jr high, high school, or college. A time when I was focused on music, and I had a living, breathing mother.