I’m feeling inspired this end of year. And emotional too. Waves of sadness and joy – which seems pretty typical for the month of December. A collective ritual time surrounded by holiday angels and ghosts.
Our sweet kitty Zelda left us on Thanksgiving weekend, and I’ve been showering her brother Laszlo with love as best I can. This death in the family is bringing me back to 2006: we lost our first cat, Rum Tum Tugger in February of that year, then my grandmother (who we called Mima) in June, and we welcomed kittens Zelda and Laszlo in August.
Mark and I bought our house in Nashville that summer and were still moving in when I got a call from my mom. Mima (her mother) had been asking if I could come perform a concert for her and her “buddycakes.” As I sat there amid packing boxes, I thought I couldn’t possible go – I was much too busy.
After hanging up the phone, I heard this little voice in my head telling me to go. So I left Mark with the boxes and flew to North Carolina the very next weekend. I performed 12 beloved standards for Mima and her friends at the Montpelier Presbyterian Church in Wagram NC.
What a surprising send off. Even though Mima was quite frail and had been having blackouts, no one believed she was near death. She was still playing (and winning) at bridge! She was still going for walks!
That Saturday night, she was beaming from the audience.
I remember thinking after the concert that if I died tomorrow, this was the most important thing I could ever have done in my life – performing for Mima and her friends (all well into their eighties) in this small church in a small town.
Sunday night, we stayed up late in her bedroom, just the two of us; she had blacked out again and when she came to we started singing. I sat at her bedside and held her hand. I have never felt such strength and power as I did that night, coming through her hand into mine as we sang “You say to-may-toh, I say to-mah-toh ….”
She died sometime during the night. She looked like a little bird, eyes closed, mouth slightly open, peace-sign socks on her feet. I had to call my mom and tell her that her mother was gone.
A few days later the same church was packed full of mourners, every single one crying as I sang “I’ll Be Seeing You” with freshly penned bridge lyrics that came to me as a vision after she died. I felt the power of Mima holding me up with her hand, helping me through it.
Here’s the Mima version of I’ll Be Seeing You:
I’ll be seeing you in all the old familiar places
that this heart of mine embraces
all day through
All those lazy days
down by the riverbank
The morning ocean breeze
The cat’s meow
The pecan trees
I’ll be seeing you in every lovely summer’s day
In everything that’s light and gay
I’ll always think of you that way
I’ll find you in the morning sun
and when the night is new
I’ll be looking at the Moon
but I’ll be seeing you
If you’ve gotten this far in this long story, I want to share a fresh piece of inspiration for the holidays. I asked Essence Goldman to come speak to a group of musicians this week. She spoke of the highs and lows of her career, a path that led her to Bernie, a voice student of hers who ended up with ALS. His lifelong dream was to put out an album of his songs; he asked Essence to be his voice.
You may have heard this story on NPR. If not, I highly recommend you watch this video of Essence and Bernie. She sings at his hospital bedside and it brings back the power I felt that night with Mima. Essence’s story reminded me that the most important thing we can do in this world is use our gifts to create connection and be of service to others.
I wish for you an inspiring holiday and end of year. Let your heart be light. If you’d like some Eve music, you can buy from my online store and I’ll send you a gift.
I’d love to bring some cheer your way. And hear from you as well. We lift each other up and I’m grateful to each and every one of you.