Sunday, August 21, 2011

Remembering Suzanne

It's hard to know exactly what to feel or say in moments like this. An onslaught of self-reflections, what-if's, paralysis, anger, and guilt all seem to amalgamate into a web of confusing emotion. I still feel disbelief. I just saw her a few weeks ago at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival! How could she suddenly not be here anymore?

Suzie and I sang together in Chamber Choir together and I treated her like any one of the talented older choristers---with fear and awe. One can't help but be a little afraid and in love with the cooler older chorister. However, there was never a reason to fear Suzie because she was always so kind to my admiring chorister self. Suzie quickly moved onto other choral groups upon entering University while I finished up my years of highschool in Chamber Choir. Even though our choral pursuits did not overlap after Chamber Choir, I felt that my life ran parallel to hers in many ways. She sang in the University of Alberta Madrigal singers, and by the time I joined that choir, she had already left. However, we both continued to sing in different womens and mixed choirs in the city. I always admired her ability to pursue her scientific interests while maintaining her musical passions. It is a balance that I strive for as well and she served as a role model for me in that respect. It is a rarity to have a fellow Science Masters student singing with as much choral passion as I.

One thing that is really unique is hearing, reading, and seeing everybody's stories and photos with Suzie that are now surfacing. Andrea Vogel composed a lovely note about Suzie that documented her memories of her through the found objects in a bag Suzie had accidentally left behind. Each of these items reflected a different part of her character. From the container that held the homemade pie she made to the water bottle filled with wine. Everybody who came in contact with Suzie has their own way of remembering her. Some are substantial and some are brief; however, they all act as pieces in the mosaic of her life.

Of course, I immediately tried recalling my moments with Suzie. As if I was afraid that these memories would degrade if I didn't. I do not confess to be a close confidant of Suzie's, instead, I considered her to be a very dear musical acquaintance and role model of mine. I would always enjoy chatting with her at music receptions and concerts and she once confessed to me that she was a reader of this very blog. I remember brushing it off with an air of flustered modesty. I was humbled to think that she would find what I had written here on this blog of interest to her.

We had this unspoken acknowledgement of one another. When I would see her in passing we would exchange a few words, perhaps when she was getting her U-Pass from me at the CAB Infolink desk, or a warm smile and wave while I was sitting down at her folk music festival tarp--- that would be enough to catch both of us up. I also remember Suzie's surprise when a fellow soprano revealed a singing relaxation technique: the mental cueing of orgasmic sensations. We all burst out laughing!

As I reflect upon these previously mentioned moments, I do feel guilty for not having known her better, however, I realize it's impossible to connect with everybody you meet in life with the same amount of attention that they all deserve. All we can do is treat people with care and respect each time we see them. I am just thankful to have known her even though our time together was brief. I suppose that is all that we can do as we make our way through this difficult time: piecing together our collective memories to construct a supportive and therapeutic network.

So as the days pass until her memorial service this Wednesday conductor, John Brough, is assembling choristers who knew Suzie to sing at her mass on Wednesday morning. Please e-mail John: jsbrough(a) for more information and details before Wednesday, August 24, 2011.

Until next time, do take care dear readers. My heart can't bear it to lose any more of you.

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