Wednesday, April 11, 2007

piano music

I got home late last night and heard the piano from the house across the street. Wayne is a virtuoso and when he plays, he opens his front door and the music becomes his gift to anyone lucky enough to be outside. It was late, though, and he gets up at 4:00 a.m.

A check of the calendar and I realized why. Yesterday was the 13th anniversary of Ronnie's death. Big, goofy Ronnie, a sweet man, my gardening buddy, my friend. Ronnie had been a Detroit cop for 15 years, but once he met Wayne, he was hassled to the point he had to give up the job he loved. For the man he loved. We all make trade-offs but Ronnie loved his work and it was a huge loss. Only a fool will pass by love when it comes, though, and Ronnie was no fool. He was a good cop, a good neighbor, my friend.

We never talked about AIDS but I knew he was sick. I'd seen the purple spots before he started wearing long sleeves year round. He was losing weight and his vitality was draining away.

The police came one night, then an ambulance. I could hear him yelling from across the street. Though he came back home two weeks later, he was never the same. The dementia that comes with AIDS is a horror. Another two weeks and the ambulance again, late at night. No return this time, just a funeral four days later and a broken heart across the street and enormous sadness in my house.

After the funeral, Wayne played the piano. It was warmer that April and the doors and windows were open, his and ours. He played and played, around the clock. I don't know if he ate anything, though I took him food, checked on him. His grief was a physical presence in that house, a weight, something alive and unbearable. The only thing that helped at all, he said, was playing the piano.

He played the piano for Ronnie as he had done for years. Music to remind him of his love, music to speak of his loss when he had no words to do so. It was love and anguish and heartbreak and regret that kept his fingers moving over those keys night and day for weeks and weeks. When it finally stopped, it stopped for good. Now I hear it only on the anniversary and I wonder if he plays with his eyes closed, imagining for just a moment that Ronnie is still here, still the audience of one. If he turns around, he'll see him lounging on the sofa, looking at him with love. With love. Such loss. How do any of us go on in the face of such loss?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I found your blog after reading some of your comments on JMG. Thanks for sharing this story. As sad as it is, it is also love-affirming.

April 11, 2007 8:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a beautiful, beautiful post. You are an amazing storyteller, and a gifted writer. What an amazing testament to love and loss, and a great memorial to a friend. I will survive my partner, given our age difference and barring any unfortunate incident, and I don't know how I will go on without him. The very thought brings tears to my eyes, and panic to my heart. How does one live on in such a state of grief? It's something we all discover, and I must assume it is a universal but unique experience for all of us. Thank you for this sad but lovely post. I am so glad you decided to share this. What a pleasure it is to have gotten to know you.

April 11, 2007 8:22 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

Music is such a wonderfully expressive gift. Thank you for this beautiful post, Lynette.

April 11, 2007 8:26 AM  
Blogger Debbi said...

I can only echo what the others have said here. Thank you very much for such a beautiful post. I hope you'll share it with Wayne.

April 11, 2007 8:30 AM  
Blogger Debra said...

Lynette, such a beautiful, sad story, a real testament to love and loss, grief and necessary losses. I have comments for you over at my place. (((Hugs)))

April 11, 2007 10:15 AM  
Blogger evilganome said...

You've gotta stop making me cry at work. Great story Lynette. Thank you.

AIDS has taken a huge toll on my life and I still think about my best friend every day, though it's been 23 years now. He too was a victim of dementia. His Mom came to visit and by some stroke of luck, she was there on the last good day he had. A couple of weeks later, he was gone.

April 11, 2007 10:41 AM  
Blogger more cowbell said...

Holy Weeping Willows, Batgirl -- evilganome, I'm right there with you, getting teary at work. Damn.

Wow, you really have a way of bringing the feeling of your experiences out.

My daughter is a classical pianist, she's at Howard U. now, and since she left, the house sounds so empty without her music. She played hours a day. I miss it terribly.

I can imagine your friend's grief in his music. Thanks for sharing.

April 11, 2007 10:51 AM  
Blogger Bea said...

(((HUGS))). A very "loverly" sad story. Are you sad?

April 11, 2007 11:25 AM  
Blogger rodger said...

Wow...such powerful words, such powerful emotions.

Thanks Lynette...and hugs to you and Wayne. Such a sad time for you both.

April 11, 2007 11:30 AM  
Blogger Honi said...

What a beautiful post.. You pose a question Such loss. How do any of us go on in the face of such loss? We never get over that loss... but if we can.. because of the depth of that love.. we breath in.. breath out and continue on. OR we live the life we know that the person we lost would have wanted us to. For sometimes the greatest way to remember those we have lost .. is by living a wonderful and good life. By remembering the things they loved and celebrating life.. its all to short.. and we never seem to have enough time.

April 11, 2007 3:19 PM  
Blogger Willym said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

April 11, 2007 4:32 PM  
Blogger Willym said...

We go because there is music and because there are people, like you and the people who read you, who care.

April 11, 2007 4:33 PM  
Blogger dpaste said...

I hope I don't know the answer to that question for a very long time.

Same for you.

April 11, 2007 5:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This was wonderful. Thank you so much. Your question and similar questions are ones I think about often...

April 11, 2007 5:43 PM  
Blogger Willym said...

sorry lynette I meant to say "we go on because....."

April 11, 2007 6:03 PM  
Blogger Red Seven said...

Thirteen years later and he's still playing for Ronnie -- I don't know whether to smile or weep. Thanks, Lynette.

April 11, 2007 6:25 PM  
Blogger LSL said...

This gave me the chills and then made me cry. Brutal, brutal truth. Thanks for telling their story.

April 11, 2007 7:55 PM  
Blogger angelfish24 said...

Thanks for sharing. This made me want to cry too. My uncle is facing a terminal illness and it makes me think, "how much time do I have left with my loved ones". It's hard to deal with and I think best for me not to dwell on. Just live life to the fullest and we all should be so lucky to have been loved and missed like Ronnie was.

April 11, 2007 8:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing.

April 12, 2007 5:36 AM  
Blogger Bea said...

Lynette, I loved your answer to "clothesline." I wrote a big long response. Yes I do think underpinnings have all to do with the plague.

April 12, 2007 9:32 AM  
Blogger Bea said...

Lynette, more later on obsession and laziness. Now, just thanks. Validation is good. And you are good at it.

April 12, 2007 10:19 AM  
Blogger Bea said...

Apparently I am going to comment all morning. I turned 50 in January. My tits dropped off but other than that it has been fine. Can I say tits on the air? Fifty is good.

April 12, 2007 10:29 AM  
Blogger Debra said...

I seconded that comment about Fifty Being Fabulous in response to your comment on my blog, having arrived there myself 18 months ago (at 50, I mean, not my blog). I will be interested to hear what you have to say about it when you get there!

April 12, 2007 10:51 AM  
Blogger BigAssBelle said...

well i have two more days of life, or so it feels. i say "no thank you" to the upcoming day o' doom, april 14. sigh. forty was fabulous, beyond my wildest dreams. why does fifty feel like the end of the world? it's just so absolutely entrenched in old fuckhood and yet i feel like a teenager inside.

April 12, 2007 12:09 PM  
Blogger Debra said...

I'm not arguing that 50 might feel like it's entrenched in old fuckhood, and there's no question that it brings each of us closer to dealing with finitude, but man, us Boomers, we just can't be here, can we? As one pundit put it this morning, we're (the Boomers) all giving new meaning to "Hell no, we won't go." I think that fighting spirit gets us closer to the teenager inside, and why not? I don't plan on being a grandmotherly type for at least another 10 years or so. Rock on, Lynette!

April 12, 2007 12:36 PM  
Blogger BigAssBelle said...

to everyone who posted above, thank you for your comments and for sharing your own experiences. that is what i love about this whole online journal thing ~ the ability to hear the thoughts of others from disparate backgrounds and to find that common thread that unites us all. blessings to each of you and, again, thank you.

April 12, 2007 12:58 PM  
Blogger tankmontreal said...

Beautiful words, BAB. As always. I'm so glad to have stumbled upon you.

April 13, 2007 10:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a writing talent YOU are. This fabulous heartfelt piece rings of love and humanity. What a powerful piece on love and loss. THANK YOU for sharing this experience. It brought tears. We're in Portland, OR, so this shows you've communicated a universal human experience.

April 13, 2007 10:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ditto to above comments Ms. Lynette. You have a gift.
Beautiful. Powerful. Helpful.

I was with one of my best friends yesterday as the ambulance team carried her down the steps to Casey House (for respite pain mgmt)for her carcinomatous meningitis. Your writing - and also JMG - has been very helpful.
Love endures.

April 13, 2007 11:23 AM  
Blogger Cindy said...

What a beautiful post. Thank you so much. We have grief in our house right now. It was helpful to read this.

April 13, 2007 12:34 PM  
Blogger Foodie Girl said...

This was a beautiful post. Thanks for sharing it.

April 13, 2007 2:08 PM  
Blogger p.alan said...

Lynette, you have a wonderful and rare heart. Tears came to me as I read your post and recalled a story that a tearful Joe and Ann told me about Chris's last days, the piano in the front parlor, and the spirit that lives through us in music. Although he suffered from lung cancer instead, I know his death has hung around this old gay house for many months.

Thank you for sharing. You have given me a need to share the story in a post of my own, now.

April 13, 2007 2:32 PM  
Blogger Tony Adams said...

C has been in Boston all week on a big project. Bad as it's been to be here alone, I know he'll be home in a few hours.

April 13, 2007 6:38 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

Thank you for a beautiful post, Lynette. I found you through JMG and your thoughtful posts there. Now you're on my blogroll.

April 14, 2007 1:49 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

What a beautifully framed post.

Thanks so much for your words.

April 16, 2007 12:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was beautiful, girlfriend---reminds me of some friends I've lost too----we do survive---and the memories are worth more than gold and diamonds---BIG HUGS to ya from Baltimore

April 17, 2007 12:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lynette, you are a truly lovely person. Thank you for this beautiful story.

April 17, 2007 12:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lynette, Thank you for the wonderful sad story. My Father is very ill back home in Miss, so this hits hard for me. BTW, as a southerner, I knew that you could tell a good story, it's a part of where your from. Like the trees and the soil. Thank you again, (((HUGS))) Chris

April 17, 2007 1:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this beautiful story Lynette. After thirteen years such a palpable reminder of loss is both heart breaking and inspiring.

April 17, 2007 2:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

while trolling ovah @ JMG i gotta kick out of some of your comments and i want to thank you for writing your way.

April 17, 2007 10:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Lynette,

Thank you for sharing this beautiful poignant love story.

April 22, 2007 1:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations on being named Post of the Week for this week. It's a very powerful piece that makes me think of everyone significant I've lost and the way the pain ages. Thank you.

April 22, 2007 11:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is one fine post, and such a shame it had to come from sadness. I look forward to reading you on happier matters.

Talking of which, 50 is nothing at all. So youthful. Me I was sixty a few months ago and have never been better.

April 23, 2007 5:05 AM  
Blogger Livvy U. said...

Hello, new reader here come to you via Post of the Week,for which congratulations and well deserved plaudits etc. It's lovely to read such a well-written blog, and one written so very much from the heart. I'll come back, best best wishes

April 23, 2007 4:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stopped by to invite you to participate in BlogBlast For Peace. Details on my site. The last one was fabulous. Hope to see you there.

Mimi Lenox

April 28, 2007 9:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

September 09, 2007 6:42 PM  
Blogger mike said...

This post has been shortlisted for Post of the Year. Best of luck...

December 28, 2007 4:50 PM  
Blogger mike said...

Congratulations on winning Post of the Year. A deserved win for a fine and moving piece of writing.

Best wishes for a Happy New Year, from the Post of the Week team.

December 31, 2007 12:39 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...


Congratulations on winning post of the year for this hauntingly lovely piece.

It's really just perfection, every word. Love is all, and Love is eternal.

December 31, 2007 10:00 PM  
Blogger more cowbell said...

Lynette, i loved this the first time around. Your writing is truly special. Congratulations for the award.

January 02, 2008 2:51 PM  

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