December 11, 2013
by Rebecca Jackson
It’s that time of year – the countdown to the end of one year and the beginning of the next. Performing with Danielle and Tiffany at the MJHS Hospice Center in New York has me reflecting on this idea of transition in a renewed way.
We performed in a narrow hallway with the hopes the sounds would travel to all the rooms. Most of the patients were unable to get out of their beds. Staff and loved ones occasionally squeezed past us, sometimes stopping to listen. I noticed how these pieces we’ve played before were being played differently, with greater tenderness and vulnerability. As our music began there was a woman who became restless in her room so they put her in a wheelchair and brought her to the doorway, just a few feet from us. Her eyes were closed and she leaned as if sleeping but each time we finished playing she groaned in approval. When I first saw her, I saw my grandmother (who I lost last year), and I was overwhelmed with emotion.
Why are good byes so sad? The pangs of missing someone you love so much brought to you by the inevitable cycle of life.
I remember my Korean grandmother telling me not to cry when she dies. Have you seen a Korean drama lately? Weeping and wailing take place in every scene, an accurate reflection of the deep-seated passion which is inherently part of my maternal culture. So of course my response to her was, “I will cry SO much.”
Life is so short. Smile more, laugh more, enjoy more, love more, feel more, because the gift of life doesn’t last forever. As a musician (or as a human being for that matter!) it is so easy to get bogged down in the chaos and many trivial annoyances. Our hope performing for hospice patients was to serve them but we received much more in return. Our souls were replenished and we were reminded to cherish the incredible power of music.