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There has been just too much loss in and around my life recently, even more so for some of the people who I love. Death is part of life, but it is so hard to understand or make sense of.

My first year at the Conservatory my voice teacher died of breast cancer. Someone gave me this poem, and I’ve always come back to it when there has been loss in my life.

This poem encapsulates for me the jarring sense of emptiness and wrongess that I feel when someone I love is no longer physically in the world. We eventually make the transition from physical presence to energetic or memory presence, but it’s often traumatic and painful, and there’s no roadmap for any of us.

Dirge Without Music
by Edna St. Vincent Millay

I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned
With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.

Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
A formula, a phrase remains, — but the best is lost.

The answers quick & keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love,
They are gone. They have gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled
Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not approve.
More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world.

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.

I hope that those that have left us are free and joyful. I hope they know how much we love them. And I wish, like the poet says, for one brief moment of having them physically near us again, although I know it’s just not part of the deal.

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