Hope and several musician friends had a concert for Thanksgiving. (They are known as the Fort Wayne Philharmonic and the Philharmonic Chorus, but dads see and name their children first.) The second piece was by Beethoven, Elegiac Song. I had never heard it, though that’s not surprising. It’s not performed often. Beethoven wrote it to be performed by a very small group. He wrote it specifically for a friend and patron, in memory of his friend’s wife. She had died three years earlier.
The song starts quietly, first with strings, then with voices. About 1:49 into the song, the male voices cry out with intensity and volume, and then blend back in. There is a little emotional swell later in the piece, more gradual, more restrained.
It is a beautiful, emotionally thoughtful piece.
And the cry at 1:49 sounded almost exactly like the voice of a husband I stood with as he lost his wife.
Many people around us are walking through deep grief these days. Maybe including you. Too young, too soon, too sudden, too final.
Although no one has lost the person they/you have lost, they/you are not alone in loss. Beethoven’s musical echo of my new friend bears witness to that fact. That community of unique loss doesn’t say, “I know how you feel.” It does say, however, “I know what it is to feel loss”.
I wish, of course, that I had magic words to reverse the pain. I felt adrift as I stood with the husband, as I sat with the family. I knew that I couldn’t heal, couldn’t fast forward, couldn’t take away the finality. The prayer requesting healing in minutes before, as the physicians were working urgently, was not answered in the way we had asked. I know the hope of the resurrection, but at the moment, the loss hurts like hell.
But I know these things. We go on one breath at a time. We care by sitting without answers. We need to be strengthened when we are not in grief.
And music can let us cry.