I’ve been to a lot of funerals. Too many of them, for sure.
But part of life is dealing with death.
I haven’t arranged many funerals though – only my fathers, and this one for my mum. And whatever hymns we sang that day for him would have been chosen by her. Although the song that was played at the end for him was chosen by me as being the only song he’d ever liked, to my knowledge. And it can still make me cry if I hear it played on the radio, because it reminds me of him.
But this time, I am making the decisions for the hymns, and for the music to walk into, and out from. The hymns were easy enough – there is one funeral hymn in particular that always makes me cry “Lord of all hopefulness” and I’ve sung it enough times at other funerals. Its part of the saying goodbye, for me, so that was my first choice this time. The other hymn is equally sad, and traditional for a funeral.
As for the walking in piece of music, it has to be something by Mozart, as he was her favourite classical composer, and I’ve narrowed that down to one piece that seems most appropriate for this purpose.
But, it is the walking out piece of music that has given me the most problems. It had to be by her favouite singer – Frank Sinatra – but he sang so many songs it’s been difficult to narrow it down. I remember various songs he sang that were played in my childhood home whilst I was finding my own loud (!) musical interests (disco, rock, glam rock, and soul) but some of his old songs I still like to listen to when I’m feeling reflective and mellow. So revisiting them all now has been a blast from the past. But so many of them are totally inappropriate for a funeral, as they’re about physical love between a man and a woman. I don’t want any of those. And ideally I don’t want the song the singer is most famous for. It would be ok if that was the only song, but there are so many that are more apt. It just took me a while to find them. Sifting through song lyrics and narrowing it down eventually to just three. I read them, and re-read them, looking for meanings, and every time I read one particular one, it made me cry. I know that crying is part of the dealing with death, of the acceptance of what is, and what was, and what will no longer be. I understand that. But, these tears were for a different reason. They were happy tears. Tears for love………. for love experienced…..for understanding love, for happy love.
And I know that when I hear it played at the funeral I shall cry.
Even though I chose it!
But it’s right for her, and right as a celebration of her life, and what she was.
And the lovely thing is, that as I am ringing around my cousins – so many of them!- and they all remember her as the vibrant, attractive, fiesty woman that she was, not what she became in the last few years. And two of them told me she was their favourite aunty – which is lovely to hear. So, I’ve been revisiting her life through my conversations with them, which has been poignant but also refreshing, and lovely in its warm comfort. And I can hear the love they had for her. And I know the love I had for her.
So, the music is right.
Because it will make me cry.