Twice today I received news of death.
The first was my uncle who passed away early this morning. I love this man. He was an amazing pianist who could improvise in a way I have long admired.
I remember on the rare occasions he came to town, if we were anywhere that had a piano he would sit at that piano and, without a single sheet of music since he couldn’t read music, play and play and play. No pauses, no changing of pieces, just from one musical idea to the next. He mostly played Boogie Woogie and the rhythms and melodies that man would play moved my soul to overwhelming cheer every time.
I looked up to him and as a budding musician I remember admiring his ability to get lost in his own music; to be so enthralled in what he was doing that it became his whole world for those moments he was at the piano.
During those times I heard him play, the music would eventually come to a somewhat abrupt end, silence would fill the room and he’d shut the piano. He’d get a look about him as if he was giving this musical world he had just created one last look. Then he’d stand up and walk away.
Not once did I ever see him sit down and play again when people asked him to keep going. When he was done, he was done.
As an adult I think I admired him even more. Not in the start struck way a child admires but in a respectful, understanding way. My uncle was by no means a perfect man and had many a trouble throughout his life, though I’m not sure what else you’d expect from someone who escaped out a window and ran away from home at the age of about three.
He spoke loudly, often rudely and knew just how to get people riled up. In fact, I was pretty terrified of him as a young child. But, he had an artist’s soul and I think he saw the beauty in things that others maybe passed by. He saw potential in me and somehow was able to let me know that despite the fact we only saw each other or spoke every several years.
I think as he grew older his heart softened about things. The last time we talked he spoke of his admiration for me as a music teacher and it wasn’t until just now that I can see how things have come full circle between us.
The second time I received news of someone’s death today was of a dear friend of mine’s daughter who had died of cancer. She lived in another state than her mother and they were not on good terms and hadn’t been for a long time.
Horrible things happened to this daughter long ago and I know that her mother has been suffering for many years knowing what her daughter went through and not having her daughter in her life any more.
When I heard this second news I immediately thought of the coincidence that these two people had died on the same day. They lived in different states, lived very different lives and died from different causes. Yet, they were welcomed to their next home the same day.
I know that they are now both freed from the pain they suffered from in this life and have found happy reunions with those who have gone before them. I know my grandma, grandpa and uncle are, right now, laughing together.
Though these two souls are in the same situation now, I can’t help but reflect on how different the affects and situations are that they have left behind.
My uncle lived a long and good life. He has family that knew him and visited him and deeply cared for him. We can find peace and comfort in these things.
My friend’s daughter however, did not get to live a long life and, from what her mother has shared with me, it was a hard, rough life. Those close family bonds were missing and I can’t help but wonder if she felt alone. The grief that is left to this family seems a much more difficult one to bear.