A week ago, I was rested, relaxed and ready to enjoy preparing for Christmas. Today, not so much.
I’ve done a fair amount of shopping, planning, ordering, etc. for Christmas, and things at church are more or less under control, too. I sent off the Christmas Eve worship aid to be printed today, and both the children’s and adult choirs are making steady progress in their musical preparations. We’ve had a lot of funerals lately, which has kept me a little extra-busy, but I don’t mind. I hope that my providing music for the funerals brings families some small measure of comfort in their grief.
This past week has also brought death to an acquaintance of mine from college, and to the son of a singing colleague, both far, far too soon. These two men were not part of my immediate circle of friends, but I grieve their passing.
My friend Mark and I were in college together. He was a brilliant pianist, vocal coach and all-around musician, and although we weren’t close in college, we’d been in touch in recent years via Facebook. He suffered from a congenital liver disease that put him in the hospital several times over the past few years, and ultimately would have required a liver transplant. Because of the seriousness of his condition, he was at the very top of the transplant list, and many of his friends, family and acquaintances, including me, were praying for a miracle. In the end, though, his body couldn’t hold out, and he died on Tuesday morning of this week. He was 46.
My friend Martha, with whom I sang in several operas in the 1990s, lost her 21-year-old son on Sunday evening. Michael had been home from college for the Thanksgiving weekend and to celebrate his grandfather’s (Martha’s father’s) 100th birthday. He was driving back to college in New York State when he swerved to avoid hitting a deer in the road. The vehicle rolled and he died at the scene, leaving his mother, father and twin brother.
I cannot stand either of these deaths. I grieve for Mark’s sister, who was with him until the end, and also for my friend, Stephanie, who was so close to Mark. Even more, my heart breaks for Martha and her family. I cannot imagine their grief.
My friend, Naomi, who is also touched by Mark’s and Michael’s deaths, put it brilliantly when she wrote, about Michael’s death, that it’s close enough to home to press her buttons, hard. That’s exactly how I feel. I did not know Michael, but I know Martha, and the thought of losing a child is beyond my capacity for understanding. It’s not right.
I’d like to be more eloquent about this but I don’t have it in me. Rest in peace, Mark. Rest in peace, Michael.