I have recently been reminded of the magnificence of the Pomp and Circumstance Marches written by Edward Elgar for the coronation of King Edward VII in 1902. As a music teacher, listening to them was compulsory for elective music classes. Google tells me that the title comes from Shakespeare’s Othello, and the line “Pride, pomp and circumstance of glorious war.” Well, I had my most recent and powerful interaction with this piece of music as a “performer” in a thirty five day appearance in a psychotic episode. I was the soloist performing at three a.m. My audience was the hospital ward. Seven months on from there I now know that my loss of connection with the real world had been facilitated by unresolved trauma triggered by a trip to a funeral! Lack of attention to trauma did me in completely. Thankfully, my keel is more steady now and I am becoming restored!
I attended another funeral on the day the Queen died. I took my sanity in my hands and hoped that any possible triggers might remain cooperative. The funeral was in the chapel of the boarding school I had attended and although there had been little if any trauma during my time as a boarder, there were many players from my past who hold potential keys to my return to the cuckoo’s nest! I managed. I was more than satisfied by my own resilience.
It was September 8th. The feast day which I had always known as “Our Lady’s Birthday” and which is now remembered as the day on which Queen Elizabeth II died.
Hardly surprising that a woman in her 97th year might die. My Mum died in her 97th year, her Mother in her 99th year. Each of them valiant, articulate, hope filled, brilliant matriarchs who lived to see their “children’s children to the third and fourth generation”. Women of faith. Melancholy is what I feel about them now. Its an ache for a physical presence that is gone, tempered by the ever present remembering. A remembering that lies dormant and then just pops up and contact is real again!
I felt compelled to watch the Service of Thanksgiving for the Queen on September 9th. This meant being awake at three a.m! I was utterly enthralled. Two thousand people in St Paul’s Cathedral. The usual choristers, clerics, processions. What struck me most was that there was not one single hat in sight for the women! Usually at grand occasions in the Cathedral people have to strain the necks to see past the myriad of different angles of carefully chosen and donned designer “chapeaux”! I could not see one! The Guardian described the congregation “ – some with babes in their arms, some in black mourning dress, others in t-shirts and jeans of daily life”. I did to not see many people who resembled me. Seventy one, still breathing but as long in the tooth as the reign of Queen Elizabeth II!
For me, the trappings of “Pomp” were not tangible. The etherial swirl of the blends of voices from the choir. Harmonies and dissonances intermingling in the unique acoustic of the roof of the Cathedral . Like incense. I was transfixed. Tears came.
The words of the Bishop of London, Dame Sarah Mullally , will stay with me. Words from a woman who also happens to be a wife and a mother:
She described The Queen as a “nations unerring heartbeat through times of progress, joy and celebration, as well as in much darker and more difficult seasons…….All of us are grieving the loss of hour head of state , headed the Commonwealth and supreme governor of the Church of England. But the royal family are grieving the loss of their mother, a grandmother, a great grandmother.How we learn to live with the death of a loved one differs for each of each of us, but we must find a way to grieve.”
I must find a way to grieve. Without it the war that results is anything but glorious!