This story is in two parts. The first part took place in New York City shortly after my boyfriend died. Of course I was devastated when this happened. He was to be buried in his native Ireland, but on the day of his funeral in Ireland they had a memorial Mass for him at his parish in Queens. My boyfriend always liked to hear me sing for him (I had done some singing around NYC at the time), so I impulsively volunteered to sing at his memorial Mass. The piece that I chose to sing was the “Pie Jesu” from Gabriel Faure’s Requiem.
The morning of the memorial Mass I tried to warm up my voice in my apartment, but every time I got to the words, “dona eis requiem,” I burst into tears. I didn’t know how I’d get through singing at the Mass (I was scheduled to sing during Communion). But it was too late to back out. All the way up to the time I walked up onto the altar to sing my piece I was praying, “Please help me get through this. Don’t let me let Jim down…” And then my Moment of Truth arrived. Standing in the sanctuary next to the organ, I nodded to the organist and he played the sustained, one-chord introduction. I started to sing, and as I did so, I felt a presence with me, urging me on, “You can do this for Jim… ” Whoever this unseen spiritual supporter was, he/she helped me get through the piece without breaking down in front of the congregation. As I finished the piece I walked off the altar, collapsed into a convenient pew, and gave vent to my pent-up tears.
Fast forward to about two weeks ago. I was touring around Ireland with a friend, and seeing as we were our own tour guides, we followed our own itinerary. Needless to say, one of our stops was to visit the graveyard where my boyfriend Jim is buried. We had been there before, so there was not much trouble finding it again. My friend left me alone as I knelt and prayed over Jim’s grave, and yes, even all this time later I shed some tears — we loved each other very much. And then I got back in the car, and my friend and I continued on our way.
My friend and I discovered a nice Classical music station on the car radio which we played when my friend (who did all the driving, bless her) felt she wouldn’t be distracted by the music if she was trying to find the right road to get us to our next destination. So, we were comfortably on the road again, and we decided to turn the radio on. About the second or third piece they played after we turned the radio on was the “Pie Jesu” from Faure’s Requiem. I gasped when I heard it come on. My friend (who attended Jim’s memorial Mass in Queens) took her eyes off the road long enough to meet mine. “I don’t think that’s a coincidence,” she said. “They don’t play pieces like that very often on the radio. I think this is Jim’s way of telling you he knows about your visiting his grave earlier today…” I shed a few more tears, thinking of Jim, but felt comforted that he knew I said an “Ave” for him, and that is grave is “warmer, sweeter” for it…