“Ye people, rend your hearts.” When Brian Thorsett began our favorite tenor aria from Elijah with those words at the recent BCCO benefit concert at St. John’s Presbyterian Church, my eyes filled with tears. Fellow alto and friend Liz Raymer, sitting next to me, grabbed my hand and held it until the final note, as my mind returned to our Saturday performance of Elijah two years ago. Jack, my partner of 22 years who sat in the audience with a few family members and a childhood friend–had stood up waving his arms to make sure I saw them in the crowd. In a celebratory mood, we had all returned home to enjoy a lasagna dinner together. The next day, when I returned from hearing the Sunday concert with a friend, he gifted me with a poem he had written about my joy and excitement in singing Elijah. Two days later, Jack died in his sleep.
Since then, I’ve been singing my way through grief. “Shouldst thou walking in grief, languish; He will quicken thee.” Those words mean a lot more to me now. I sing every concert with my favorite photo of Jack tucked in the front of my music binder and pass out the photo to a few of my alto buddies to add to their binders, comforted to see Jack’s smiling eyes when I look to the side of me or to the riser below. I’m singing every concert for Jack and I still look out at the audience trying to find him. Thanks to the BCCO community and the beauty of the music we sing, I do.