Death and Life

My friend with pancreatic cancer died this afternoon. I did not get to go play my harp for her again. A nasty cold kept me away the past ten days. It seemed unfair to inflict sore throat, fever and sinus congestion on someone who is already dying. Enough is enough.

I am sad that I did not get to see her again, and grateful that she is no longer suffering.

The turning cogwheel of my world is missing more and more teeth: my dad, Leo, Bettie, Patti, Ruth, John, and now Roxann. Yet, “the big wheel keeps on turnin’, ” missing teeth and all, and life rolls on.

The life that rolled on tonight was the end-of-semester Recorder Ensemble concert. Again we had more people in the audience than we had playing on stage, and many members of the audience were not related to any of the recorder players . . . I guess our fame is spreading.

This semester’s music was the most challenging I’ve played since joining the ensemble five years ago. For many of the pieces I was the solo soprano amongst the flock of altos, tenors and basses.

Tonight, for the first time, I can say that I am happy with how I played in a concert. My stomach remained in its assigned place instead of in my throat, and my hair-trigger adrenal glands did not surprise me with a sudden overdose of adrenaline. While I was not note perfect on every piece, I never lost the flow of the music, never lost the beat, and never lost the joy of playing.

Tonight, with my friend’s death heavy in my heart, I am grateful to still be in this silly old world, even with all its missing pieces. I’m grateful to be able to play music, grateful to be able to still walk among the trees and beneath the stars and with the friends who remain close by my side. I’m grateful to be able to say, “I’m happy with how I played tonight,” and to go to sleep with a satisfied mind.


21 thoughts on “Death and Life

    1. Thank you for your reply comments. You both said it so well. When we lose a loved one it brings the reality of life to the surface. The blessing that was left to me after my mom passed has given the life i have left more meaning.. I have stopped taking for granted my own life and I have deepened my thoughts. I am so thankful for special friends and for my husband. I am thankful that my dear mother is not suffering anymore. That helps me through the loss. My harp is a very soothing part of my healing. I enjoyed hearing about your accomplishment in playing with your group. Thank you for sharing those moments in your life Janet…you continue to inspire with your honesty about your experiences.


      1. Losing my friend who was five years younger than me is making me appreciate the people and opportunities in life more, and to not wait to do some things I’ve been putting off for “later.” We just don’t know how much more “later” we will be allotted. Play your harp next to your heart as much as you are able, and the healing will come.


      2. Thank you…..I will remember your kind words and inspiration to appreciate today….and remember that now IS today not tomorrow.


  1. I just lost my Mother last June. We moved two months after to a home in a different city. My life has been a little disconnected. Reading your blog helped me think about what I am thankful for, instead of what I have lost – how much my life has changed in the last 6 months. I am now more directed to look at what I am thankful…..and your blog is one of those blessings. Thank you.


    1. Thank you, Suzanne. When I started this blog I couldn’t imagine that anyone would find what I wrote to be interesting or helpful. Knowing that the blog is a blessing to you means a great deal to me. It is so hard in the midst of such loss to focus on what we are grateful for, but for me, it is the only path out of the dark places I can rely on. I hope 2014 will hold fewer challenges and much healing for you.


  2. I’m so heart goes out to you. I’m happy for your experience at the concert. That sounds like progress with performing for sure.


    1. Thank you, Nanci. Given the outcome was inevitable, I am glad that she is not suffering any longer. I am grateful to know that I can actually enjoy and feel confident in a concert situation – I truly doubted that would ever happen.


  3. Ah, another death due to cancer. My younger sister’s friend passed away today from cancer, and another teenager died two weeks ago. I hope cures will be found soon, because it is too painful to watch so many innocent people be taken away. Keep harping away šŸ™‚


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