Tuesday, January 17, 2017

She Was Dying--How Could I Possibly Make That Better

I got a call one night, right after dinner. "Is this Elisa?" a woman asked.
    "Yes," I paused, " how can I help you?"
    "A friend gave me your number, said you played the violin at her mom's funeral. You've played at a lot of funerals?"
    "Quite a few."  And the truth was, that I've played the violin at more funerals and weddings than I can remember.  
    Loads of people have asked me what it's like playing at funerals; it might sound crazy, but the funerals are almost more wonderful than the weddings.  The funerals I've played at--well, I've never met the people who died beforehand.  So, meeting them through the eyes of those who know them best and loved them most, well, that's beautiful.  It's how I wish the world could be: that we'd each see the best in everyone, and be the best version of ourselves, always.  Freakin' rainbows and lollipops...instead of smog and facades.   
    "Are you looking for a violinist to play at a funeral?" I finally asked.
    "No." She took a very deep breath, and when she spoke again, her voice had weakened. "My mother is dying.  They said she probably only has a few days left.  She's old and ornery.  Nothing seems to make her feel better anymore. But...she loves the violin.  Can you come play for her tomorrow night?"
    Bring it on--a cantankerous old lady--she'd be right up my alley.  "Of course."  It wasn't until after I got the details about her taste in music, and where she lived, that I got really nervous.
    Playing for a funeral is weird because I've thought, If I don't play well, will this person haunt me? I've only been to one funeral where the man wasn't spoken very well of.  Not many people showed up to that shindig.  I played these super sad songs, Irish-style.  And I was sad because looking into his casket wasn't my favorite moment.  He seemed so unhappy--had huge frown lines and everything.  I wondered what his life had really been like....  Especially since his wife wasn't even that sad that he'd died.  He must have been selfish--that's the only reason I can figure why someone wouldn't be spoken well of at their own freakin' funeral.
     But I'm getting off-track....  
    Anyway, it's one thing to play for someone who's already died, but to play for someone who's about to die...that was a lot of pressure.  She could actually reach out and smack me if she didn't like my melodies.  And if she was as cantankerous as her daughter said, I was in for an adventure--in the flesh!
     I put on my big girl panties, and told myself I could do this.  I would brighten this lady's day, make her forget her sorrows if even by the upstroke of my bow.  That's when I drove to her daughter's house the next day, and knocked on the door.
    "She's waiting for you," her daugther said.
    And I walked into a quaint house that smelled like whiskey and cinnamon.
      "Let's do this." I nodded to the daughter, and followed her to a little bedroom that was down the wallpapered hallway, and to the right.

To be continued tomorrow.