The Story Behind the Music
I wrote this piece for my deceased husband, two months after he breathed his last. He was my world, my love, and my soulmate for twenty-nine years. I took care of him for fourteen of those years as his nurse. I know well what suffering is, and he endured every day of it with fortitude. In my despair and unimaginable grief, I discovered great determination to give him a tribute to honor his life, his courage and his love.
It had to be classical music. No lyrics. Just feelings. But I’d never written classical before. I can’t read or write music, or play an instrument! My experience with music was playing a little piano, and I hadn’t done that in thirty-five years. Playing by ear had been enough for the purpose of ten years of songwriting, when I was young. That had to be furloughed to pursue a nursing career, out of necessity. But I made a mental promise to find a way to do this for him, because he deserved it.
For no reason at all, one day I sat at the piano and played nine notes, very slowly, as if to discern what was being said. They were beautiful and they wouldn’t let me forget. This was a few months before he died, and there was no clue what was coming — the event that would change my world.
Alfons, whom we always called “Al,” was my second husband. He had a tough life growing up, and he pushed himself, taking on two and sometimes three jobs at a time, and received scholarships to earn his MBA. He worked for the government and was a college professor for thirty years. We were so happy to have each other and he always supported me through the hardships of caring for hundreds of hospice patients.
He was the family chef, cooking up culinary combinations that only a meat and potato guy can lovingly craft. His humor was usually boisterous, uninhibited, and he reveled in a reaction. His generosity to me, his son, and my three children was heartfelt and always well intentioned. We never had the heart to tell him we didn’t need the skull ring, or the drive chain wallets.
A slip-and-fall accident at work threw our peaceful lives into turmoil. It was the beginning of fourteen years of suffering. I was his faithful caregiver, wife, nurse, and soulmate as he stoically faced the unrelenting, cascading infirmities that plagued us for all those years. My nursing duties moved to the forefront as I would not allow his symptoms to win the battle in destroying his quality of life. He suffered in silence, never complaining…ever.
A granite tombstone was not enough. It had to be greater, bigger, a forever living dedication. I knew what had to be done and it would be a first for me. It had to be a tribute in music because it reaches the core of us all. It had to be classical; the genre which I believe shows the most respect.
At the age of 74, I sat down at the piano, and was drawn to play those nine notes I’d found months before. It felt like a realized premonition of what was meant to be. Through my tears, sobbing, anxiety, and despair, it was completed in hours. There was no time to write down my shorthand notations. It had to be remembered and took weeks of playing it every day, for the fluidly to naturally flow from my hands. My love for him had to be self-evident in the piece. At last, the introduction was written, and toward the ending, the arpeggios symbolize the final letting go that sends the music to follow him to Heaven.
There was still so much work to be done. Months passed after I recorded the piano part in a studio as a demo with digital strings added by musician Andre Maquera. The piece needed to be scored, and five different people tried to write it. A pianist knowledgeable in reading, Jess Christian, met with me and each time I played she combed the notes for errors. Finally, it was Darko, an opera singer and pianist from Serbia who submitted the one score that could be sent on to the conductor for the next phase.
After much research, I discovered the Capellen Orchestra in the Czech Republic. It is known for producing Hollywood trailer and film music. Renowned conductor, Maestro Petr Pololanik assigned his arranger and orchestrator, Aaron Purvis, to interpret my written descriptive emotions felt throughout the piece and ready it for recording. The arrangement and orchestration fits exactly to my emotions in every measure, as I composed it.
On September 19, 2022, the Capellen Orchestra with thirty-two highly trained classical musicians, produced and recorded My Departed Love. It has received hundreds of reviews, and will continue as my expression of love for a man who had such courage to endure for my sake. Music never dies.