My ex-wife (and best friend) sits across from me in the living room, crying.
“I wanted to help him so much.”
The elderly man had come to her for a violin lesson. Before he died, he told her, he just wanted to get better at playing the instrument. But now his hands were shaking so much from his chemotherapy that he couldn’t play that day. So they just talked about his violin and his life. “I’m not going to have a another treatment. My body can’t take it.” He’d play at the next lesson.
Quicker than anyone expected, he passed away. No violin lesson.
His daughter asked her to play at the funeral. “Edelweiss,” his favorite song. Allison has picked a solo Bach movement, too, one in a major key that feels to her like his spirit.
She looks at me, over our morning cups of coffee. “His daughter says she asked him when he was truly happy. ‘The one time I played in front of an audience, when I was a child.'”
The one time he played for an audience.
It’s a Buddhist funeral. Maybe he believed in reincarnation. Some of my mystical/spiritualist friends do, for sure, and sometimes I sense that on some unseen energy level they may be right.
“Maybe he came to meet you in this lifetime and will study violin in the next,” I tell her. “Look for him a few years from now, when you’re starting a three or four year old.”
He or she will be that enthusiastic, happy one. Finally doing in one lifetime what he was born to do in the last.
I hope that’s true.