Earlier this week, I attended the memorial service for a neighbor of mine. Her husband had emailed me a little over two weeks ago about the service, and I was shocked at the news. Although I do not live in the same condominium complex anymore, for the 5 years I owned property there, their family was the best possible neighbors anyone one could ask for. I remember how we used to gossip about the trust fund baby who lived in the penthouse, and gleefully complained about his seriously crazy behavior. I remember when we gave each other simultaneous smirks in the garage after trust fund baby was hauled off to “rehab”. Mean spirited or not, we always had a good laugh about that.

The service was scheduled for Wednesday afternoon. I gave myself an hour to get there, but I should have known that the 405 would have other plans for me. I got to the service late, and quietly sat myself down in a pew in the back. The final speaker, a well dressed, older looking gentleman, was up front reading his personal recollections of the deceased. He concluded his remarks with a story recalling the first concert they attended (Elvis Costello) and the last musical event they attended, an opera, and further noted that it would be her first and last opera. It was a lovely, personal story.

When he concluded, and made his way back to his seat, music started to play. With the opening chord progression, I could tell it was The Beatles’ “Let It Be”. I can’t remember which version of “Let It Be” was playing, but it really didn’t matter because I was already focused in on the lyrics:

When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
And in my hour of darkness she is standing right in front of me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be

My eyes stared watering, and I quickly gave up any attempt to stop the tears from tripping onto my black pants.

And when the broken hearted people living in the world agree
There will be an answer, let it be
For though they may be parted, there is still a chance that they will see
There will be an answer, let it be
Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be

It was a poignant parting message, made even more poignant when I later researched the history of the song that evening. McCartney said he had the idea of “Let It Be” after he had a dream about his mother during the tense period surrounding the sessions for The Beatles (the “White Album”). McCartney explained that his mother—who died of cancer when McCartney was fourteen—was the inspiration for the “Mother Mary” lyric. He later said, “It was great to visit with her again. I felt very blessed to have that dream. So that got me writing ‘Let It Be’.” He also said in a later interview about the dream that his mother had told him “It will be all right, just let it be.”

I later found out while talking with others in attendance that the husband had played “Days” by The Kinks to start the memorial service. I started to well up during that conversation. It may be an uptempo song, but the lyrics in that song still made me quite emotional.

Thank you for the days,
Those endless days, those sacred days you gave me.
Im thinking of the days,
I wont forget a single day, believe me.

I bless the light,
I bless the light that lights on you believe me.
And though you’re gone,
Your’e with me every single day, believe me.

Music is powerful stuff. Put in the right context it can make any grown man cry. On a slightly overcast day, within the four walls of a church, near the place I used to live next door to the deceased, during a beautifully respectful memorial, The Beatles made me cry.  If the music tells the story, she was loved and will always be remembered, whether in song or in their hearts.

Rest in peace, Karen.

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