Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Singing it Out

In November, 2009, I received a text message from a dear friend who I hadn’t seen in years. She texted to say her mother died of cancer that day. I immediately replied with my condolences, and invited her for lunch when she felt up to it. I was pleasantly surprised when she quickly responded. We quickly renewed our friendship, and went to lunch weekly. Along about that time, I recalled an old gospel hymn that I sang in church as a little girl, “In The Garden”. For some reason this stuck in my head as I couldn’t remember the words, so I downloaded the lyrics. I found great comfort singing the song in my son’s memorial garden in my backyard, however I struggled to remember the words and carried the lyrics with me most of the time.

Unfortunately, my friend lost her father to cancer in December. She told me her parents made their wishes known to the family, and invited me to a memorial gathering to celebrate their lives in the spring.

For months, the lovely hymn stayed in my head, still struggling to remember the words.

The words “Get ready!” also coming frequently with the urge to sing this song. My  friend called to say the family memorial gathering was scheduled in early May. With that this crazy urge in my head grew intense. While driving to the family gathering on a beautiful Saturday, the words “Get ready” was loud, frequent and clear. Of course, it didn’t occur to me to take the lyrics with me. A huge gathering, complete with gospel singers and their musical instruments, children and dogs playing games in the yard, a table loaded with food to feed an army, the party had started.

Later in the day I approached an elderly man who played the banjo, and asked if he knew the song. He stated he didn’t remember the words, had the lyrics and could play the tune. I told him I felt we were supposed to sing that song for some reason. Next thing I knew, I was standing at the microphone and the music was playing. I took a deep breathe, and started to sing. Except it wasn’t me singing.

The voice was higher, and I tried to bring down the pitch, but couldn’t. At that moment I felt like a goldfish in a glass bowl watching as the crowd started singing along and crying. That song lasted an eternity. Shaking like a leaf, I ran into the house and found a quiet corner alone, trying to figure out what had just happened. A sweet little lady with tears in her eyes, tapped me on the shoulder. She gave me a kiss on my cheek and thanked me. She said to me, “You had no way of knowing, but that was Nancy’s favorite song.” Needless to say, Nancy sang her favorite hymn to her family whom she dearly loved. I’ll remember that day for the rest of my life, and I promise Nancy I’ll be “ready” the next time she wants to sing.