Going to the symphony was a tradition Sue started for us last year. She bought us tickets to six shows for our 2010 anniversary.
Sue was such an incredible fan and supporter of live performance. She majored in drama in college, then taught, acted in, and directed community theater most of her life. Her friends, daughters, and grandchildren all accompanied her to shows regularly. For my niece’s 16th birthday, she even took a group of us to London for a “musical week.”
My husband and I would often take her to shows when she’d come to visit, but Ryan wasn’t much into musicals. Knowing that, she suggested the opera. She thought maybe the classical music would win her son over. So we all went together, and we liked it, but it still didn’t strike a chord. Her final attempt was the symphony. That’s why she bought us the tickets. That and the fact that it would give her an excuse to come out every-other month to babysit.
After that first show, we came back raving. We promised we’d never go without symphony tickets again. Sue was thrilled. She lay resting on the foldout in our living room, where she stayed most of that trip. It was her last visit, and her illness was in fast forward. But she babysat that night and simply made it work by playing with and cuddling Szaba on the couch, where she had everything she needed within reach.
So last night we went to the symphony, and as we went to find our seats, I was taken aback. We were in the exact same spot we had been a year ago: Founder’s Tier, Row A, Seats 3 and 4.
As the lights went down and the music began, the room seemed to stretch out before me, reaching beyond reality and time. The effect was magnified by the fact that the seats were half empty and the stage was empty (since it was an organ recital). It was as if the past and Sue’s loss were an emotional overlay blotting out large swatches of the present.
As if that weren’t surreal enough, I couldn’t shake the memory of a sketch I had drawn a few days ago as part of my November 30 Days project. I had completed the drawing before I even realized we had symphony tickets. It was a picture of an audience of empty seats in a vast, dark room with a minimalistic, discordant focus onstage.
It was like triple déjà vu on steroids.
Have any of you ever experienced anything like that? It was such an odd and vivid moment of perception that stays with me still.