When my mother passed away in Italy on July 29th, 2008, she left behind a pretty comprehensive list of demands regarding her cremation. We had talked about it quite a bit throughout her illness and when she finally succumbed at 15:00 exactly, the only thing that was difficult was arranging for the repatriation of her body to the Netherlands.
One of the things she had been rather adamant about was the choice in music she wanted to have played to the attendants of her cremation. Each song was beautiful in itself and I thought they were good picks she had made, but only with time do I start to understand the message that she’s leaving me. It rings so clear in each of those songs, what she was trying to leave us with and for who she meant each of them.
One song, she left to her children. It rings out so clear it’s making the Machiavellian thought behind it almost overwhelming. Win by David Bowie is a song about perseverance, hard work and success. She wants us to succeed in whatever we choose to apply ourselves. She never had any real outspoken demands of us. She supported her children the best way she knew how. Slow down, let someone love you. She had so much love and she wanted us to experience that for ourselves. Wear your wound with honour, make someone proud. It’s okay to make mistakes, it’s life, you learn your lessons and you become a better person. Somebody lied, but I say it’s hip to be alive. Live! Live your life with all the ups and downs and keep on living it.
One song, she left to her lover. She had been separated for a long while, but she still had a tremendous amount of love for the man who had been like a father to my sister and I and was the father of my brother. It had been a deep and tempestuous relationship that ultimately wouldn’t last but I don’t think either of them would’ve had it any other way. They cared so deeply for one another. Wild is the Wind by David Bowie describes the passion and deep connection that they shared.
Three years ago this was the song that I clung to when I was struggling with the loss of my mother. If my father hadn’t died a year before, I probably would’ve clung to him, but instead, I seemed drawn to this song. Only really for one reason, one line; With your kiss my life begins, you’re spring to me, all things to me. To me it became to mean how she had given birth to me, how her love nourished me to life and how it all started with her and that she was responsible for everything. Now, with time, I know that this song wasn’t meant for me and that considering it as such is a little strange, but I can’t help but be deeply moved still by this song and by that line, particularly.
Then there was the song that was for herself. Or rather, for everyone. No More Drama by Mary J. Blige is a song about being free of pain, problems and the weight of life. The weight of the disease that in 18 months had turned her from a vibrant and beautiful woman into an old woman. No more pain. God knows, she was so strong as she struggled with an unbearable amount of pain for well over a year. Surprisingly, the medication that allowed her to endure the pain (and the medication that allowed her to endure the medication) didn’t diminish her somehow. But I know that when the time came, she was so tired. She had been strong in life and she was going to be strong in death. She was ready.
In de maneschijn, in de maneschijn,
klom ik op een trapje door het raamkozijn.
Maar je waagt het niet, maar je waagt het niet.
Zo doet de vogel en zo doet de vis,
zo doet een duizendpoot, die schoenenpoetser is.
en dat is één en dat is twee
en dat is dikke, dikke, dikke tante Gree.
En dat is recht en dat is krom,
en zo draaien wij het wieletje nog eens om.