Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Music, Remembrance, and Observations

with 2 comments

Folks, this is a difficult blog to write, mostly because I’ve been struggling with my grief process over the loss of my good friend, Jeff Wilson, all week long.  (Well, really since he died, but this week it hit hard and fast, and just hasn’t really let up for very long.)  Couple that with the holidays, and with missing my late husband Michael something fierce, well . . . let’s just say that I haven’t really had an enjoyable few weeks and save steps, shall we?  (The sinus infection I’ve been dealing with hasn’t helped, either.)

What keeps me going despite these difficult and frustrating times?  My music, that’s what.   Music has a profound resonance for me, partly because I’ve spent most of my life studying it, and partly because I think better in music than words.  (Strange, but true.)

Next Tuesday, I’ll play the first concert since making a bit of a comeback as a musician out at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside in Kenosha.  The UW-Parkside Wind Ensemble and Community Band will perform, both singly and together; as first chair alto saxophone in the Community Band, I will be playing an extended solo in a piece called “Roma.”  I’m looking forward to the concert, and I hope those of my friends and family who attend will enjoy it.

That being said, it feels very strange to me to be playing a concert at this time.  I’m not one hundred percent right, not physically (even without the sinus infection, my hands continue to give me fits due to my carpal tunnel syndrome), and certainly not emotionally due to the recent loss of my friend Jeff.  But that’s not any sort of excuse to keep me from doing whatever I can; I refuse to sit on the sidelines just because I am not in the musical shape I’d rather be in, or the physical shape, either.

The last time I played a concert, it was before I had met my late husband Michael — while Michael heard me practice many times, he never got a chance to hear me play in a concert, something I will always regret.  Now, Jeff is also gone; while he was there encouraging me through both rounds of occupational therapy in the last year, which helped me regain enough of my abilities to again be able to play my saxophone (and play reasonably well), he is no longer able to hear me tell him how things are going, much less get a chance to hear a recording of the concert itself.  (With his health issues the last five weeks of his life, that would’ve been the only way for him to hear me play unless I’d been able to get out there and play for him in person.  Which of course I also wanted to do.)

So the two people who were the most important to me in this life are gone.  I can’t do anything about that, other than wish with all my heart and soul that they were still here . . . and that’s not enough.  (I’m sorry.  I wish it was, but it really isn’t.)

What I’m going to try to do, therefore, is play and hope that wherever they are, they’ll hear it and know I’m doing everything in my power to regain my musical abilities.  That meant a lot to them, and I’m sure that wherever they are now, it still does — so for the moment, all I can do is save up my experiences and hope that down the line, I’ll again be able to share with them how I felt about what I was doing in some sort of meaningful way (even if it has to be in the positive afterlife, not here).

Music, ’tis said, is a great healer.  All I know is, it helps me to be able to play right now, even though nothing is going to be able to take this pain away because I miss my husband.  I miss my good friend.  And I wish very much that they were still with me in this life, because I really would’ve liked to see their faces after I finished, triumphantly, playing my solo in “Roma.”

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Written by Barb Caffrey

December 9, 2011 at 12:15 am

2 Responses

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  1. Music is a fantastic healer. Smetana helped me gain the courage to stand up to my father and get him to admit some things. (Which he did.) Wagner helps moderate my moods–even though there’s a price to be paid for all that drama. 🙂 And Sibelius keeps me level, clear and well. Playing music provides a deeper kind of healing, as my kantele and clarinet have taught me: I often play my clarinet when I’m sad, because it’s hard to sob when you need all your breath for the music. And the kantele picks up on mood better than almost any other instrument I’ve come across. What I love so much about making music (and listening to it) is that no one person plays the notes the exact same way. Music can be endlessly interpreted.

    Sibelius once wrote, when he had finished his 5th Symphony, that the door to heaven opened before him, and he could hear it being played. I think that music, to paraphrase Broks, “cancels the distinction between the outer world and our inner life.” I’ve never thought very hard about it, but music may even have the power to cancel the distinction between our outer world and *the* outer world that everyone shares in. And if it can, then maybe your friends *can* hear you. 🙂

    *hugs* for you,

    Jenni

    Jenni

    December 9, 2011 at 8:56 am

    • Interesting thoughts, Jenni . . . I hadn’t known that about Sibelius, and I hadn’t read the comment you referenced, either, about how music cancels out the distinction between the outer world and our inner life. But it would follow, as you have it, that if it does so, that those on the Other Side probably *can* hear it if I play . . . and that’s a consoling thought during these difficult times.

      *hugs* back

      Barb Caffrey

      December 9, 2011 at 7:45 pm


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