Singing goodbye

I have just come home from the funeral of one of my choir ladies.

And so I reflect on her time in my choir. I spot her in photos of us in our sessions and performing.

So often as choir leaders, we think and talk about the impact we have on the lives of our choir members. Perhaps we help people overcome a lack of confidence. Or maybe we help them find friendship. Sometimes we give our choir members peaks and milestones to punctuate their every day rhythm of life. We think about how we can give them the best experience.

When I found out that my choir member was poorly and her time with us was limited, I desperately wanted to give her something, mainly to say thank you. But what do you give someone who knows they are soon to leave us?

After much thought, I gave the simplest thing possible – singing.

Together with a few other choir members, we sang songs to her, outside in the rain. Outside her bedroom window. Although she was not able to speak, today at the funeral we heard that she was able to tap her foot along to the singing. For that fourty minutes we were able to give our music, and say: Thank you. We care. You are a part of our community.

But how often do we reflect on what our choir members give to us?

It she was a highly regarded professor in children’s respiratory medicine. During lockdown she helped me give a session for my singers about breathing. It was truly fascinating.

Our lovely member, who we said goodbye to today, gave me (and as it turned out, many others) encouragement. She had a quiet zeal and passion for life and wished that for us too. She offered help at the end of sessions when it was time to pack up. She quietly reminded me every now and then that my work really mattered to a great deal of people.

We talk a lot about inspiration here. Well, I drew inspiration from this choir member.

So I leave you with this question:

What do you draw from your choir members? What inspiration can they give to you to help you become a better person?

Rest in peace, alto Margaret. This year we will sing our songs in memory of you.