June 24, 2008

Memento Mori

For those who don't know or would like to know before they google it, the phrase memento mori can mean several things - chiefly, "remember that you are mortal" or "remember that you will die."

I bring this up because, as I recently found out, one of my contemporaries (a church-mate from when my family still went - we've all lapsed at some point, at least temporarily, since living in Louisiana) has passed away. It's actually kind of tough to deal with, not because we were ever close (the closest ties I have with my time there is with one of my teachers' family, and that's only through my parents), but because it is shocking to think of someone that I knew being dead.

I remember (and I hope this is right), my mom helping out her mother who, in addition to being the Lakeview's Music Director, was a florist. I remember one of her piano teachers (who also briefly taught my sister I believe) and I could swear she was the one who chose me and directed me in the only choir I've ever been a part of (a fifth grade, elementary school choir - I remember singing German and singing vocal parts I couldn't get close to now).

One thing I almost have trouble believing is that she was a part of the Society for Creative Anachronism. But I suppose I didn't know her for that part of her life.

I don't know why, but I've got A Perfect Circle's version of Joni Mitchell's "Fiddle and the Drum" repeating. I know it's an anti-war anthem, but it feels like funeral dirge, like a real song of mourning. Of course, I'm also mourning my ever short-lived book reading, for once I finish, it's unlikely I'll ever pick them back up again.

Who, if I cried out, would hear me among the angels' hierarchies?
And even if one of them pressed me suddenly against his heart:
I would be consumed in that overwhelming existence.
For beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror,
Which we are just able to endure,
And we are so awed because it serenely disdains to annihilate us.
Every angel is terrifying.
--Rainer Maria Rilke, Excerpt from "The First Elegy"