On Brahms, Life and Death, and Being There

Our school counselor lost her husband Friday night. It was sudden, unexpected, and tragic.
A former colleague lost a brother recently; snowmobiling and fell through the ice. He was 29.
La Petite has been wrapped up in supporting a friend who is dying of gastric cancer. She and her coworkers at the school paper are preparing a tribute. The young man had an early graduation ceremony last week; he is not expected to last until the actual ceremony in May.

So much tragedy; big tragedies in Haiti, smaller emotional earthquakes in our circle of family and friends. What can people do? What can people say?

A long time ago, when I was young and studying piano, I was struggling to play Brahms. I could play the notes, it sounded nice, but my performance was lacking in the emotion and the intensity that makes Brahms’ works the dramatic pieces that they are.
My teacher stopped and thought. Then she told me:

I once had trouble playing Brahms. I couldn’t express it properly, and I didn’t know why. I didn’t know what was missing. I never knew what to say at funerals, either.
Then my husband died. And I realized what I had never known; that there was nothing anyone can say at funerals. All you can do is be there; and being there is the most important thing of all.
And then, then I could play Brahms.

Well, I stuck to Debussy and Chopin for a long time. But I know now; even if there is nothing to say, no way to help the grieving, it’s important to be there.

If you’d like to Be There for La Petite’s young friend, go here to make a contribution. He was an active and healthy young man until cancer hit him; swim team record-holder, computer geek, and more. The family is struggling with bills, including the rent for the off-campus apartment that he can no longer use due to his illness.

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7 thoughts on “On Brahms, Life and Death, and Being There

  1. >Beautifully said. Thank you. We've all been struggling to put the Haitian tragedy into perspective. There is no perspective. It just is. And you're right – it happens in microcosms everywhere.

  2. >That is a lot of loss all at once. I'm so sorry for your colleagues. I've been reading about the ice deaths in the paper–seems like a new one every week.

  3. >I've come to believe that one benefit of having difficulties is to finally know how to understand when others have bad things happen. Suddenly it's much easier to know what to say when it's also happened to you.

  4. >amazing how just a few words can be so powerful .. having my own "stuff" going on right now its so true that just being there says mountains! I Love all of my friends and family – local and across the globe! This is a wonderful post!

    I am sorry for so much loss and tragedy in your world!

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