Someone said: grief is the presence of absence. This is very true.
Many of these blog posts are sparked by chance encounters – with views (both picturesque and political); with people; places; other people’s words, deeds and thoughts…. It’s how, I believe, the very stuff of life is formed. (Although, much as I would like to – if only for the good “stuff”: especially a place where I wake up every day without pain… – I struggle to believe that everything that can happen to us is actually doing so in a parallel universe: somewhere, sometime.)
I couldn’t find an exact source for Madge’s pithy quote (tripped over at the end of a Guardian feature; and which coincided with the death of a musical mentor – that, at the time, on a day when I was already riled, felt like a stupefying, slow-motion, hard punch to the guts…). The nearest I found was this… – which, although I agree with much of it, I obviously disagree with what I see as its sugary, religious sentiments (especially the confidence in a future “presence” in heaven…).
Give sorrow words. The grief that does not speak
Whispers the o’er-fraught heart, and bids it break.
– William Shakespeare: Macbeth
There have been many insightful words written and spoken about death – but I already know that mine won’t really contribute much to that assemblage. It’s just that “My bursting heart must find vent at my pen.” My immediate response, though – however instant and clumsy – did have a positive outcome, in that it reconnected me with another mentor (and once-and-now-again good friend): who I had not been in contact with for a very long time. As he replied (again immediately): “Old and highly-valued friendships need to be nurtured.”
And, of course, he was right: “Someday the rains will fall”. Who knows what future griefs may arrive just around the next corner? What regrets they might prompt for the delayed; the unspoken?
I struggle, though, with the concept of having regrets – knowing that, logically, one cannot go back (or travel to the relevant “parallel universe”) to undo, redo, or simply do, something. Emotionally, though, the blighters are impossible to escape: and I suppose their moral – to “Gather ye rosebuds” (not just for yourself – but especially for those around you…) – is one worth learning: even if it is similarly difficult to enact.
Ronald Frost: 1933 to 2015
Ronnie was a great musician; a great man; and always great fun to be around…. As I went on to be a church choirmaster, myself, for some short time, I know I owe a great deal to his generosity in sharing his formidable talent and knowledge, and great love of music.
I remember turning the pages – and sharing a flask of very sweet coffee – with Ronnie, on the organ at King George’s Hall – probably during a performance of The Dream of Gerontius (a work he was a master of – also coaching the Hallé chorus to such great heights…) – and enjoying all his little asides! He was also responsible for many of my solo performances, before my voice broke and became intensely frog-like!
My fondest memory of him, though, will always be him trying to teach his labrador, Sheba, to jump over a footstool – somehow, it sums up the light he brought to other people’s lives – always putting a cheeky grin on your face – and his…!
Rest in peace, Ronnie – or, perhaps more fittingly, surrounded by the beautiful music you enriched us all with.