Before I write anything, can I just point out the glorious moustache dad is sporting!! I remember trying to pull that thing off when I was a kid. Little did he know, they would now be the height of hipster fashion today! Ok, moving on…
Let me set the scene…
The air is warm with a summer breeze. The night sky begins to pop with specks of light and people are gathering. Blankets, candles, picnic baskets. The sound of children like a jack in the box slowly winding. Instead of a stage, a big old truck hung with fairy lights and decorations, the back of which is filled with instruments, music stands, microphones and the people who have helped lead these carols for many years. Cicadas join the chorus as the conductor waves his hand and into the night leaps music whose tradition tells a story of hope.
As the year winds up and tired feet drag their way to Christmas, a joyful evening of community celebration and remembering was my delight to be a part of. But more so, it was a joy to lead this night beside my dad. My dad, who for 29 years, faithfully led these carols, would spend hours pulling together the orchestra and vocal parts as a humble offering to the community. I would watch him, sheets of music spread across the table…
“These are the flute parts, but I’m still needing someone on clarinet and Amy, do you think you could introduce this song?”
My heart would swell with pride as I watched the quite sacrifice of time, energy and love that he gave.
But my heart would swell even more at the privilege of singing a duet with the man who helped make me!
I sang my first public duet with him when I was 9 years old and the last one when I was 29. I remember so clearly the way he would look at me when we were on stage singing. What a gift to have been looked upon in this way…such pride, such acceptance, such unending love.
I really can’t describe how good it felt to sing a note in harmony with dad. Our voices blended so well. It is that that brings me straight to tears. The thing that I deeply, deeply miss. Something was created in those moments, something so incredibly precious, a treasure that could not be touched or described. Even now, I hear his voice, the exact quality of his tone, the shaping of the sound, the resonance with which it would penetrate your soul. I’ve not heard a purity like it. Ever.
I find it so hard now, to sing the songs we sang.
I open my mouth and nothing comes out. For years, I’ve stood in church or driven in the car with his harmony beside me, a familiar sound of comfort, a piece of heaven on earth. But now that’s gone. To think…I’ll no longer hear his voice. What a gaping hole this leaves in the centre of my chest. I feel like everyone can see it. There’s no covering it up. It is, and it hurts.
At this time of Christmas celebration and holiday cheer, I’m all too aware that someone is missing. Christmas will never be the same again. But it is in the missing that I will be reminded why we sing. Why the story of Christmas has lasted all these years and why hope is so very important.
For it was in the thrill of hope that the weary world rejoiced.