This past weekend I sang Messiaen’s Trois Mélodies as part of Eric’s recital at school (he’s getting his MM in collaborative piano). When he first mentioned this set to me, I was a little apprehensive. I’d never done any Messiaen before, and I wasn’t even sure I understood/liked the snippets of his compositions I’d heard in class. But after hearing the first of these songs the first time, I knew I liked it. And after working on the music, I started to understand it. Eric and I talked about Messiaen’s deep faith and elements of a religious mysticism that are slowly highlighted in the set. It’s quite fascinating that it is only in the third song that religious images and words are used, and yet you can go back through the first two songs and hear the unspoken wonder and joy.
Then I found out that my friend Malina, who had been battling cancer for two years – first with surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and hormonal therapy, and then alternative treatments after the cancer spread and was deemed incurable by doctors – was no longer able to continue with any treatments at all. It was apparent that her health was declining over the past few months, but she maintained such a forward-looking energy, committed to her treatments and doing her own research, that it was a shock to hear that she was going to a hospice, that she and her family acknowledged that she was entering her final days. She passed away today, just five days later. She documented and reflected on her experience through her blog, Miss Oestrogen Positive, and it was incredible to catches glimpses of her life, her family, and her friends. Her honesty is very powerful. There are days when she is scared, frustrated, angry, and sad… but there is so much hope and love. It gave me a new appreciation for the Messiaen songs:
Pourquois / Why?
Why the birds of the air?
Why the reflections of the water?
Why the clouds of the sky?
Why the leaves of autumn?
Why the roses of summer?
Why the songs of spring?
Why do these hold no charm for me?
Le sourire / The smile
Certain words, murmured by you,
are an intimate kiss, and prolonged
like a kiss on the soul.
My mouth wants to smile.
My smile trembles.
La fiancée perdue / The lost fiancée
This is the sweet fiancée.
This is the angel of goodness.
This is a sun-drenched afternoon.
This is the wind on the flowers.
This is a smile, pure like the heart of a child.
This is a large lily, like a wing,
placed high in a cup of gold.
Oh Jesus, bless it!
Her! Give her your powerful grace!
May she be unaware of the suffering, the tears!
Give her rest, Jesus!
She was kind, generous, sweet, funny, beautiful, talented, and spirited. What a reminder to cherish life and all the moments of awe and love.