An Open Letter to Barbara McAfee,
Your tracks “World of Wonders”, “Let It Be” and “I Wish That I Could Show You” enveloped me in love and light today as I grieved. I cried for my grandmother and mom, who both left this earth this year.
The first left us at the age of almost 101, having lived a life of fullness, grace and love. A first generation American of Polish decent, she embodied hospitality, free from judgement or expectations. She gave of herself in service to others simply because that was her light. She suffered in recent years in and out of hospice, witnessing the speechless separation of her only two offspring, void of hope they would be reconciled on earth because…
The second left us suddenly at the age of 71, alone in her home, sprawled on the floor with a small drool of blood and fluids that simply said she went without pain or suffering, even though her last decades were full of empty illusions of untreated alcoholism…deep in denial, and unable and unwilling to accept her own human condition. She also embodied hospitality, though hers came oft times with judgement and “strings of expectations.” Nonetheless, her intentions were to mirror her mother’s grace and love. She gave of herself in service to others, hoping to find joy and freedom for the little girl trapped in the bottle. She battled in sharp wit against her only sibling, leaving him on earth to suffer guilt, shame and similar fate for sure at the end of an empty bottle and broken marriage.
Today I sobbed and grieved, looking for answers and solutions to my pain. I managed to avoid my traditional patterns of numbing sex, drugs and alcohol…and instead stayed in the moment. I turned on your music, and found comfort, deep solace and sadness. And yet in that moment, a vision of hope came…that while I would have no answers to the empty holes in my heart from these two angels, nor would I find answers in the love of another person, or even the soft licks of my Daisy may who lapped up the saltiness of my tears…I am able to accept the situation, and know peace…let it be.
My second tattoo design is now complete, having known I would have 26401 from Les Miserables, and the dual mask of joy and grief, comedy of masks…and now, it will lay on top a characture of your outstretched arms, blanketed in light, in hope, in the promise of peace.
Thank you for your gift of presence. While I found no remedy to the loss, I found hope in the gentle notes coming from your soul.
For others, this cd from Barbara arrived this week. I met her in Cincinnati at a conference earlier this year. She let me have a pre-release version of track 13…”I wish that I could show you.” And it has brought me great comfort up until and now through her released cd. I encourage you to seek out her deep presence and melodies at barbaramcafee.com. May you find your own truth, light and life.