The Grief

Written September 11, 2011 and shared in RMT’s memory

It is our nature to love. And when you love, you eventually endure loss.

Prior to this time last year, my only dear ones to depart their mortal coil were my grandparents, and while they remain with me in my heart and my memories, their passing was a natural part of my life. But then in September 2010, a close family friend slipped away in the night, stolen by cancer. For her, my sadness still gurgles close to the surface, arising every so often to claw at my throat and erupt in sobs. She visited me in a dream a few weeks ago, young, beautiful and vibrant, her presence so potent that it was a few hours after I awoke before I realized it was only a dream, and there I was, shattered once again.

I finally understood this morning that forever more will I live with grief. That to fight it, ignore it, or dismiss it is foolish. The grief is here, and it is a part of me.

Though no one I knew or loved perished September 11, ten years ago, my heart crumples on this day each year. Every American has their 9/11 story, and while mine isn’t typical, nor is it extraordinary.  I grieve for what I lost that day, but comparatively, I survived unscathed, so I will save that story for another time.

On this anniversary, I found myself drawn to a church I haven’t attended on a regular basis in many years. I learned that the church of my youth was offering an orchestral service this morning, and a sermon of remembrance and hope, accompanied by seven violins, two violas, two cellos, two bass, and a piano. And if you know me, you know I am a serious sucker for strings.

My sweetie and I have been discussing returning to church, and so today we headed downtown for worship. I had already spilled a few tears over breakfast watching the ceremony inNew York, so I came prepared with a purse stocked with tissues, and for the first 15 minutes of service, I wept wave after wave of silent tears. Finally, I caught my breath and backed away from what seemed like eminent hysterics just in time for the fourth movement, which I share with you here:

Lacrymosa: Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep

Do not stand at my grave and weep; I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow; I am the softly falling snow.
I am the gentle showers of rain. I am the fields of ripening grain.
I am in the morning hush. I am in the graceful rush of far-off birds in circling flight
I am the starshine of the night.

Lacrymosa dies illa. (O how tearful that day.)

I am in every flower that blooms. I am in still and empty rooms
I am the child that yearns to sing: I am in each lovely thing.
Do not stand at my grave and cry; I am not there, I did not die.

I listened to this piece, and I thought about this grief that is now a part of me, like tiny little scars lining my body underneath my skin. I thought about my grandparents, and especially my dear friend, and I realized I will always miss them—I will always cry on September the eleventh—and this is okay.

It is said that it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. I think the exquisite pain of grief is a fair trade for loving fully, deeply.

Rest in peace.


More information about the 9/11 church service music,
 Howard Goodall's Eternal Light, A Requiem (see #5)

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