It's Sunday here. I'm naming it because I seem to live more and more off the calendar these days and every so often need to look up what day of the week it is. Since nothing seems to unfold in a straight line any more, perhaps we shouldn't be surprised that Time should be all a-muddle, too?
On Wednesday evening we received the shocking news that our singing friend Kate had collapsed in Australia after a brain aneurysm and been admitted to hospital for emergency surgery. She subsequently suffered two heart attacks. On Friday morning, doctors pronounced her brain dead. Yesterday morning, medical staff switched off her life support system. Can this really have happened? I'm finding it difficult to get my head around. . . On Wednesday morning, Kate rose lightly to a day like any other and forty-eight hours later, her entire world had crashed to the ground.
What can I - what can anyone - possibly say? After all, this is not reportage; this is flesh and blood and love and loss and rage and grief and ache. There are people hurting - three children have lost their Mother, one has lost his step-mother. Anything I say is going to come out thin and inadequate.
'Stand in the heart. Stand in the heart. . . ' has become my mantra in recent months. I find myself repeating the words, over and over again, sometimes silently and sometimes out loud. The urgency of their message reverberates in my chest cavity.
Last night, during a power outage, I lit a grove of candles and spent a few hours at my desk in my safe lap of a house, wandering through iPhoto libraries in search of mandala images for Kate and her family.
For the past fifteen years, a group of five of us has met on a regular basis to sing a cappella - there have been times when we've met twice a week (if, for example, a festival was on the horizon) but mostly we'd gather weekly or fortnightly. Fortified by companionship, food and wine, we talked a fair bit (rather a lot, actually) but we sang a lot, too. Over fifteen years we gathered up a rich repertoire of songs and shared life stories. Way back when, we named ourselves As Is - these two words/four letters seemed enough to describe who we were; no bells or whistles or fancy shenanigans. Just us, as is; women who loved - still love - to sing.
Kate was one of our original five, as was our dear and splendid friend Chrissie who died last December after a four-year wrestle with cancer; both lived with their hearts wide-open and wings spread wide. They left this world in full flight.
Not long after we all met in the early 1990s, Pam wrote a song about the shared journey of friendship. Such young voices we had back then. . .
I don't know what else to say. Kate, Chrissie - most excellent women - this is a song you know well (Kate, alto; Chrissie, soprano). We embrace you.
In the circle of joy, in the circle of tears
where we've shared our journey, our laughter, our fears
let's acknowledge what we gave and what we're receiving
for the gifts will live on past our time of leaving.
And now as we journey from our meeting place
not knowing the future or the turnings we face
we go out in boldness and courage that we will be
true to our calling to be all we can be, will be true
to our calling to be all we can be.