In an effort to rid myself yet again of the mother of all ear worms, Prince’s Purple Rain, I turned this morning to Jacqueline du Pré’s performance of Dvořák’s Cello Concerto in B minor, which decision brought with it a whole other unanticipated spectrum of matters to do with grief and loss.
My late husband, Arnie, decided in his seventies to take up the cello. This was after the guitar and the ukulele, and contiguous with Hebrew lessons and teaching Shakespeare’s comedies at U3A.
His cello playing was excruciatingly awful, yet he bent to his task as if he were Yo-Yo Ma.
I can’t hear a cello without seeing Arnie, lost in the joyous experience of wresting music from the instrument, so engrossed in his mission as to be entirely oblivious to the tortuously mangled sound he actually produced.
There is the manner in which we mourn for the ones we loved but did not know, such as Prince, Bowie, and for me James Gandolfini whom I still miss, and when Leonard Cohen leaves I don’t know what I’ll do. And then there is the manner in which we grieve for our partners. The former is a but a pale imitation of the latter, nevertheless, it has the power to evoke the devastating loss of far more powerful and intimate loves.
Each of us finds our own way to live with our grieving, because what else is there to do? Yesterday I found myself re-reading a story by Jorge Luis Borges, The Circular Ruins, about a man who dreams a man, only to understand that he himself is the product of yet another man’s dream. Borges begins with a quote from Through the Looking Glass VI : And if he left off dreaming about you…
I read this story again because it was one that delighted Arnie, he read it to me many times. I wanted to read it through his eyes, I wanted to understand why it so delighted him.
I wanted to be with him again. Which of course, I can never be.
The enormity of loss and grief makes itself evident intermittently. Were it otherwise, it would be intolerable. We must get through this thing called life.
But if we leave off dreaming about them…?