I had a vivid dream last night. It was Christmas, and we had a tree decorated, but after a couple of days, the limbs starting falling off, along with their ornaments. We ended up with half the tree missing. Next, a neighbor came in and asked me to look across the street at their new yard decorations. I went over to the window. At first, the decorations were just shadows through the glass, but if I looked, oddly enough, directly through the curtain, I could see them. They were life-sized carolers, holding their hymnbooks, mouths in song.
This was one of those dreams I could easily interpret on my own.
The high school which I attended had a chorus group whose members were close to each other. (I'm sure other chorus groups and band groups can relate; musicians are a tight-knit group.) Through the years, we have seen many of those classmates pass on, many of them my good friends. This past week, Peter Russell, a talented guy who was liked by all, died in Memphis.
As we age, we will lose more and more branches off our personal trees of relationships. And with those branches go their decorations - the smiles, laughter, talents, compassion - everything that made those individual branches bright and special and unique. The tree is now half empty, and it makes me sad. I try to concentrate on the intact part, but I can't help missing the empty part, the friends and relatives who brought joy to my life.
But, just across the way, I see them, as if through a veil, still singing.
It reminded me so much of the I Corinthians verse: For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face.
I think one of the very first posts of this blog was about trying to deal with my visible accumulation of memories as we started downsizing. All those memories involved people, who, when they go, take with them a piece of my life. Especially in chorus, our experiences in that group are shared by us and us alone. The Broadway shows we put on, the assemblies at which we sang, the concerts we gave, the fun we had hanging around our chorus room, and our exceptional teacher, Miss Rose Gillespie - our generation will be the last to know what that was like. One by one, the list of the departed grows, and the list of those who are left on earth shortens. This does not invalidate the memories; indeed, it makes them even more precious.
Outside my room as I write this, there are more leaves on the ground than are on the trees. But their brilliant colors will be remembered, and I know I will see them again next autumn.
RIP, Peter. You are with a talented group of carolers. Give Miss Gillespie and all the others a hug from me.