SUNDAY, October 24 – ‘Now where were we?’ I joke, as I stand there in front of 130 guests gathered in the concert hall of the Amsterdam Conservatory.
Most of them I hadn’t seen in almost a year, since the cremation service. We’d taken leave of each other in sadness, but with hope in our hearts. This afternoon I don’t intend to grieve for our loss, but rather celebrate the fact that we are here today. That we are not only alive, one year later, but also living.
This morning I’d re-read the speech I gave then. At the crematorium I’d frequently quoted Jennifer, herself and her most important message was, ‘Live now. Live in the moment’.
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That’s what we’re doing, together with musician friends, whose contributions are much appreciated. In my thank you-speech, I referred to the past year as a ‘piece of crap’. I impress on them how difficult it has been without describing each and every crap moment. I stress life, and offer a number of variations on the theme: Survive. Experience. Empathize. Live on. Enjoy ourselves.
And that’s what we’re doing this afternoon. Emcee Sander is the ultimate entertainer, addressing the audience with amazing aplomb between several pieces on the piano. He’s also a genuine crooner, as if he’s spent most of his waking hours in smoky cafes. He winds the audience around his little finger, as he introduces the various acts. Effortlessly. And the kid is only thirteen. When I was his age, I was almost afraid to look people in the eye in answer to them merely asking me a simple question. This afternoon it is clear to all that Sander is a born performer.
Eamonn brings the first set to a close with the rock ballad ‘Basket Case’ by Green Day. There are tears running down my face and I’m not the only one as this ten-year-old takes his place on a high-backed chair and starts to play. It’s as if he’s sitting on the living room couch, casually strumming away. He plays and sings, makes a mistake in the middle of a song, laughs at himself, picks up the thread, and then finishes the song amid a tumultuous storm of applause. Proudly he returns to his seat alongside me.
God, how I love my children. Jenn’s children.
The first anniversary of her death is a true celebration. Just as I had envisioned it: a memorable afternoon with family and friends, during which Jennifer was present in the music. It was a fitting way to introduce C: living proof that love is possible after tragedy. May our hearts be filled with the spirit of Jennifer’s beloved Baudelaire poem, so that we take no notice of the passing time.
Don’t be martyred slaves of Time,
On wine, virtue, poetry, whatever!
We are alive. No matter whether our stay on earth is long or it is short, that’s what it’s all about.
(Would you like to go to the start of my blog, one year earlier? Click here and scroll down)