I had quite the Saturday last week. The day was evenly broken into two events: singing at a former classmate’s memorial service and attending the launch of a friend’s first book.
I was sure it would be an emotionally grueling day. The former event reminding me of my mother’s funeral only seven months ago, and the latter event challenging me to network and small talk with people I did not know well. And in many ways, the day was grueling. I needed to seek out the occasional quiet space, so that my brain could sort out all the emotional stimulation this social marathon of a day gave it. But, it could have been so much worse. Though I needed to make allowances for my slightly introverted wiring, I went to sleep that night inspired by a single idea: when it is most needed, human beings create Art.
With a myriad of choristers and some dear friends, the memorial service choir navigated a wonderful middle ground between Anglican Church music and jazz. Our voices filled the church space with the joy of sound, a strong reminder amidst the grief that we celebrated the life our colleague led. Then, with a myriad of writers, friends, and librarians, I sat in the New Haven Free Public Library as Adrian Bonenberger read from Afghan Post. A memoir he started writing, upon returning from active duty in Afghanistan, to help him through PTSD’s relentless aftershocks.
Art. Beauty. Creation. All three present in the wake of grief, tragedy, and intensity last Saturday. All three offering those afflicted an opportunity to take life’s confusion and brokenness and abrupt endings into their hands, and create something new, something empathetic, something worth living for.