Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Death of a Stranger

I find myself dedicating my music this week to a stranger who died yesterday. The two pieces by Gabriel Faure seem an appropriate elegy to this neighbor who was released from life after succumbing to a stroke.

On Monday as I sat down on the porch to eat my breakfast cereal, an ambulance and paramedics showed up directly across the street. They brought out a woman on a stretcher and took her away with a few friends and relatives standing around but not showing a great deal of surprise.

It’s a small place with a lot of houses in close proximity. Everyone’s ear was out to find out what had happened. The word on the street later was that the woman had suffered an asthma attack. I breathed a sigh of relief as I hoped she was doing as well.

But the very next morning just as I sat down to eat my breakfast, the ambulance was back. This time the woman appeared to be totally motionless as she was loaded into the ambulance. The EMT turned on the external oxygen tank and they sped away.

Later in the day we heard that she had been removed from life support and had died, having suffered a stroke. The house looks the same as it always does. Nothing has changed here at Chautauqua, except that one of the guests is no longer able to enjoy this place.

Who exactly was this woman who died? And what was the real cause of her death? Why did she come home on Monday if she was so sick? Was she perhaps terminally ill? These questions about this stranger whom I never met keep going through my head.

It occurred to me as I practiced this morning that the two pieces I am playing are ethereal and beautiful and seem a fitting way to recognize the stranger’s death. I will play them with her in mind, this stranger whose name I don’t even know, this stranger who is no longer living just across the street.


Blogger Kristin said...

How fitting. Dedicating the ethereal music to her and playing with somebody in mind. It seems like it would add another dimension to the music for both the player and the listener.

1:35 PM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

Somewhere, I'm sure she's listening and is appreciating your kind and thoughtful gesture.

(Do you mean she was AT the camp too or just happened to live across where you were staying? I think of camp being all on the same grounds like a regular camp)

3:53 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Kristin -- For some reason I am the only one in my house who keeps thinking abou this, but the music helps. Hopefully she is listening somewhere...

MOI -- People come to Chautauqua for many different reasons, not just to play music. Those of us who live "on the grounds" live in close proximity to one another, the houses being on the site of the original Methodist tent camp from many years ago. Some people own their houses and live here all summer. Others like us rent a house. I have a feeling the woman who died lived here.

4:18 PM  
Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

It sounds archtypal, powerful and probably traumatic. Be gentle with yourself. You lost a good friend just last week, and now this. Take good care. I bet you'll play better than ever. What a wonderful send off for the lady across the street. Bravo!

5:08 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Reya -- I intend to find out her name before our recital on Friday. For some reason I need to know who she was and not just keep thinking of her as a stranger. I'm not exactly sure why.

5:27 PM  
Blogger Pauline said...

what could be better than moving on to the sounds of ethereal music? what a lovely gesture

5:53 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Pauline -- I hope she likes it!

7:10 PM  
Blogger riseoutofme said...

Barbara, what thoughtful way to help her spirit on its journey.

The kindness of strangers.

4:41 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Rise -- I figure we're all passing through this world and into the next together in a sense, yes?

8:47 AM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

I was even thinking about her when I went for my walk yesterday. The spin-off effect of connectedness.

5:33 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

MOI -- Yeah, me too. Makes you wonder where the spirit goes right after death!

6:47 PM  

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