Wednesday, March 11, 2015
Some cultures demand it, others shudder to hear it. Some see it as a measure of the love lost, others as weakness. I can’t recall the first time I heard it. I don’t remember the dead, don’t remember the family, the place, or the time of day. It must have been in the hospital, outside of some room where the specter of death had just passed. I do remember the sound, the first hearing of a song sung a million times, always heard different and always absolutely the same the mourner’s song, the cry of someone who has lost another. The gut wrenching call of those who have had a piece of themselves ripped from their being and from this world. For some it is a loud guttural response loud enough to be heard through closed doors and around corners. For others the mourning song is something more internal, a soft cry, or perhaps relieved laughter. Whether it is screamed out for all to hear, or a dirge played for an audience of one in the theater of the heart, the mourner always sings. Mourning is nothing more than a love song without a melody, the arraignment of a life lost played in one cacophonous instant. The love that has lost its object demands a body, and it takes it shape in the sounds of mourning. Just like all of death, the mourner’s song can be something ugly, something hard to hear and frightening. It can be difficult to dwell in that place with the mourner, even harder to do it day in and day out. But there is more to the mourner’s cry than the ugly. Beauty can be found there. The mourner’s song is built on notes of laughter as much as tears, on love as much as loss, on joy as much as pain. Any song worth singing, any tune worth playing is buried somewhere in the mourner’s call, and in that way the song of the mourner can be the most beautiful of music.