I made it back home yesterday at midnight after a traumatic and intense few days – a death and four funerals, two of those funerals of family members and one for a colleague. Life comes in fits and starts, and sometimes there will be patches like this, but it has still been a case of finding energy and vigour in the furthest reaches of the soul.
My uncle died last Wednesday as I was standing at the graveside of my partner’s grandmother, and we flew to Holland on Monday for his funeral on Tuesday. I visited often when I was younger, so it was a real mix of emotions of all kinds, especially seeing so many old friends who are suddenly (it seems sudden, at least) in their forties – how did that happen?
Yesterday afternoon, at the funeral of one of the clergy at a church where I play the organ, the choir performed Alonso Lobo’s beautiful and austere Versa Est In Luctum – “My harp is turned to mourning and my organ into the voice of those who weep” – and I briefly wondered if that is where my compositional harp will now turn. I have long said that I will never write a Requiem (too many bad ones, not enough space for yet another), but an opening phrase came to me on Tuesday as I stood by my uncle for the final time, a Lenten temptation to resist with all my might.
But no, I have decided that my harp will not be turned to mourning. Instead I shall continue to chase the positive and the energetic, to fight against the pull of silence and to write music that embraces the thrill, the vibration, the sheer mind-numbing improbability of being here and being now.
So without any doubt this has been a tough and exhausting week, draining me emotionally and physically to the very core, and with a stinking cold to boot, but I keep reminding myself that it is not how hard you can hit that matters. Instead it is how hard you can get hit and still get back up.