In early July I mentioned that I had gone to a friend's funeral. Last Saturday, I went to another friend's funeral (too many funerals, says me). The similarities between these two friends of mine who passed away are unreal (in fact, if I told you the whole story, you wouldn't believe me); to share just a few: they were both in their fifties; they were in the same line of work; they each left behind a wife and children and scores of friends, colleagues, and admirers; they both enjoyed success in music (which was not a career for either of them); and in a twist of irony, it was their hearts which ultimately failed their bodies -- ironic because of the pure love and charity which flowed from those hearts, which drew in those around them, and which I certainly encountered in the short time I knew each of them.
I was kind of fascinated by the displays at their viewings. Tables and easels and photos and books, all arranged as part of an exhibit of a lifetime of accomplishments. Among the visible memories were audible memories. At the viewing in July: a cd of recorded duets by my friend and his son, as well as numbers by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, of which my friend was a member. At the viewing last week, a very different genre: music of Elvis, The Beatles, Neil Young, and The Grateful Dead; upon approaching the table where the music was playing, I read a sign which said that the music we were hearing was a recording performed by my friend and his band (dead-on covers, those). (And on Saturday, at David's funeral, the song Consider The Lilies, performed by David's friend Roger Hoffman who, you know, wrote that song.)
The last time I saw David, we talked a little of music, and I told him that due to some underlying belief that I've got to Be The Best if I'm going to do anything at all, I haven't really done anything with music, and of that I am ashamed. He asked me more, so I told him more: When I was younger I didn't realize that one could perform/create music AND have a family. I really didn't. I thought that if you were a musician then you had to live a life void of family and faith, Selling Your Soul, essentially. So I chose family and faith, putting every ounce of my efforts into being the best wife and mom I could be, leaving my musical talents to gather dust in the name of Not Being The Best. My friend smiled. "Jenny," he said gently, "lots of people make music, even though it's not their main focus in life. You can enjoy music without it taking over your life. Many people do that. It doesn't mean you're not able to be successful elsewhere." Of course this is something that I know -- I have many friends who are musicians who have families. But it took my friend telling me this, in those words, for it to really sink in.
Introspection, of course, has also had its hand in my life over the last week or so, and I wonder: what would be on display for me? What physical manifestations exists to represent the life I've lead? A pile of diapers? A laptop? Swim goggles? And so I've decided to put some energy and thought into pursuing things in which I have an interest; things for me which will also enhance the lives of my family members.
Here are some things I've always wanted to do:
~ Record music. Singing, playing. I don't mean the cassette tapes I have of my old band, although I'm grateful to have those, too. In fact, I think I should get those out and have a listen.
~ Be in a movie. I don't really know how this could happen, but it's something that's always been there.
~ Dance in front of, and get cheers from, a large group of people; have them think I'm a good dancer. Check.
~ Be on the radio. I've already done this. I'd love to do it more.
~ Learn Clair De Lune on the piano.
~ Paint something. On canvas.
~ Learn how to take amazing photographs. My pride has pushed this aside due to the trendiness of Getting A Camera And Starting Your Own Photography-On-The-Side Business By Taking Pictures At An Angle And Using Photoshop. But my desire to know how to take my own photographs is still there.
~ Be a competitor, not just a participant, in triathlons.
Those are some. I don't need to be the best at them, but I can still enjoy them. I imagine as I stretch and strengthen these muscles of talent, more ideas will come my way.
I learned so much from these friends who have passed on, and because of how they lived their lives, my life is, and will continue to be, better. Much better.
At the funeral on Saturday, a letter was read from the pulpit, written by one of David's sons who is currently on a mission in Georgia. In part: "Dad has his imperfections, as we all do. His temper could be short at times, his tongue quick. Yet, it was evident by the way he lived that he was working to overcome those imperfections."
I'm holding on to that one very tightly.