I wrote this a while ago – probably early 2006 -(obviously because it says that I was still a “working girl”) about my singing. I thought I would post it as it is still valid and I did not have a blog when I wrote it. I hope it touches some hearts.
I love to sing. I recall singing “Calendar Girls” in my third grade play and some little boy that I was standing behind turned around and said “you sing too loud!!” I remember trying out for the 5th grade choir at my elementary school and singing some patriotic song (“My Country Tis of Thee”, I think) as my audition. Our Christmas performance at the nearby mall was one I will always remember. And since then I have been singing. I’ve sung at school, at church, in the car, in the shower, over my friend’s voices, at my grandmother’s funerals, as well as my dear aunt Alice’s, who just passed away a little over a year ago. I have sung at many weddings, mostly for friends, but some for pay as well, through my church. I have sung great works such as Handel’s “Messiah” and I have sung little ditties that I can barely remember. I have sung with a choir that received straight “one’s” from the judges and made the walls vibrate in the concert hall with the last note. I have sung next to elderly woman whose voices aren’t what they used to be, but their hearts still carry the tune perfectly. I’ve never had perfect pitch but I can sight read pretty well. I played the piano for a few years, but my fingers are really too short to do the job well and frankly, I would rather use my voice as my instrument.
A few weekends ago I was approached by my church choir director and asked to sing at a funeral for someone I did not know. Normally, I would not even get asked because many funerals are during the week and I work. However this one was on a Saturday and they really wanted someone to sing the Ave Maria, which I love to do. I agreed and then my head began to spin as I drove home after rehearsal that night. There I would be in a room full of strangers whose mother or grandmother, sister or friend had just left them behind. The only reason I even knew it was a woman was because I was singing the Ave Maria but no one had even told me her name. When I arrived home and told my husband he asked if I would get paid, which I hadn’t even thought about yet. I didn’t know – would I? When I arrived that morning to rehearse with my accompanist, who is a friend of mine, I saw her name, Sarah, on the song sheet, so at least now she had an identity. I asked Ann how old she was or how she died but she did not know. She was just there doing her job. As I practiced an envelope was placed on the music stand before me and the question of payment was answered. I felt a little weird about it. How did someone’s passing become a financial gain for me? But then of course there were many people whose business was just that – giving a respectful ceremony and burial to the ones who go before us. Needless to say, it was a little surreal, watching her family during the mass and wondering who was who. I have sung the Ave Maria at both of my grandmother’s funerals, but I knew most of the players in those cases. This was different, like I was in a play or something.
It was a small affair and I did my job too as I sang to the best of my ability for this woman and her loved ones that I did not know. Towards the end of the service a friend of the family for many years spoke kindly about Sally (this was her nickhame) and about the years he knew her, her late husband and their children and the times they spent together. After the family had left the church so did Ann and I, and that was it. As I drove back home to my family, I thought about how my son would one day probably have to do what hers just did. I was also thinking about how I would be back at church very early in the morning to cantor for the 8 a.m. mass and although I love to sing, that was a little early! But little did I know what that mass would entail.
I arrived by 7:30 to practice with Ann again and things went as usual. After we got into the church just minutes before the priest would begin the mass, Ann let me know that there would be a baptism that day and I would need to sing an additional, short song. It didn’t hit me until after the parents had left the baptismal font and my singing was finished that my weekend had come full circle. There he was, this new life, not replacing Sarah by any means, but still bringing renewal to the loss that even I felt the previous day. He was pure and small and didn’t even cry as the water washed over his delicate little forehead. And there was his family, beaming at his new life in Christ. Sarah had a new life in Christ as well, one that would fulfill the promise God also made to little Preston that day. It would hopefully be decades before he would follow in Sarah’s path, but as believers, we all know he will, as will we.
I see signs of God everyday in my life, but mostly in my singing. It brings extra joy in times of sheer happiness; and I hope it brings some light in times of darkness and sorrow. It comforts the people around me and always gives me a sense of the gift that God has bestowed upon me. I will never stop singing, even when someday, hopefully, he calls me to be with him. As a matter of fact, he may even turn around and tell me I sing too loud….. although, I really doubt it.