A year ago today my mother was diagnosed with cancer, and six weeks later she was dead. I try to hold her hand in my memory, but it’s not working; it’s not working. Every day she becomes less human, more ethereal. I signed a lease on an apartment in St. Paul recently. It has bay windows and French doors and a glass porch. A young person’s first place has no right to be so beautiful.
The juxtaposition of the two events is jolting and sad. Numbing.
I hear you’re not supposed to “put a timeline” on grief. But I want to. Because grief hurts and whips and drains like a motherfucker, and I want to be done with it. Or at least be able to regard it knowingly, and from a great distance.
Sometimes I feel like I’m making progress. Like I’ve come through intact. But then every time I’ve caught my balance, I trip on something else.
Sometimes I don’t even know what I’m feeling until it’s too late. Then I realize I’ve been putting on a facade for other people.
Or, more likely, putting on a facade for myself.
It’s a little before one o’ clock in the morning on January first. I’ve just attended the Minnesota Orchestra New Year’s concert, and I’m in the atrium at Orchestra Hall. I’ve forgotten my coat on the rack and I need to get it before heading out into the icy new year.
Just inside the door, right beyond the dissipating crowds, there is a table loaded with CDs. Staff and volunteers are packing up boxes, but there is still a Minnesota Beethoven cycle left.
I stand and consider it. I think of the possibilities owning a complete recorded cycle would present. The Minnesota Orchestra is traversing all nine symphonies and all five piano concertos over the course of three weeks this January, and I have a ticket to every program. This CD set seems like a suitable memento.
Then I have an idea, and I step up to the table before my responsible side kicks in.
“Can I still buy this?” I ask the disassembling staff. “Sure,” they say, and they smile and hand me my change.
Looking at the set, I resolve to have my own Beethoven marathon…but as a listener. I promise myself I will find a day free from distractions and listen and follow the score to all nine symphonies, first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth: all of them, straight through, no breaks, except for meals. I am inspired by the idea of a marathon. I am curious if these masterpieces speak differently together than singly.
So this morning…
Whenever I need a break from music, I log on to Tumblr, scroll down, and zone out.
Then the other day in the midst of mindless scrolling I saw this.
Of course I immediately wondered if this was the work of a trickster with too much time on his hands and a grudge to bear against the Dallas Symphony, so I opened a new tab and Googled “dallas symphony beethoven festival brochures.”