Matthew’s memorial service was held at the Chapel of the Chimes in Oakland yesterday.
We should all live our lives such that the people around us are inspired to throw such a remembrance when we pass. I have never been to a memorial like this — great musicians from all over the country came to play things they had played with Matt before, to improvise, to speak, to remember, to pray. Parents, siblings, friends voiced their feelings. Stacia spoke courageously. The cast of Hedwig played two songs from the show, which left everyone with Kleenex in hand. Little Lila was hoisted on shoulders to see friends and family clapping to Klezmer music. I held small sleeping Miles in my arms and felt so grateful for his existence, our relationship. Friends showed their love for one another. We all cried, and started to move through the wall toward acceptance of Matthew’s loss. At the end of the service, we saw Stacia smiling a bit – the first time in days, so gratifying.
The existence of the chapel blew many of us away – as if a big chunk of old Europe had landed in the middle of Oakland, virtually hidden. Of course, if I had made it to one of Matthew’s performances inside the chapel, its beauty would not have come as such a surprise — he played there twice, with ensembles scattered throughout its Borges-ian labyrinths, where tall banks of urns are interspersed with indoor gardens, sculptures, excerpts from texts of various religions. Dappled sunlight, ferns, total serenity. At the time, it seemed Matthew was playing all over the place, there would be lots of chances. Don’t let chances pass you by, they may not come again.
Matthew loved the idea of urns shaped like books — the bookends of one’s life – and some of his ashes will be stored in a set. More ashes will go to water.
Later, to Stacia’s cousins’ house to sit Shiva (Matthew and Stacia are Jewish, many of us there were not), continue the remembrance, eat good food. Handed out sound board recordings from the SF Hedwig cast performance. Showed Stacia a picture of Matthew in Pensacola 1988 with Grecian Formula 69, looking so much younger (because he was) (Matthew is on the right). Stacia laughed and commented that his knees looked knobbly.
Now that the memorial is past and well-wishers begin to clear out, the hard part begins for Stacia and Lila – how to support themselves, pay mortgage, raise a girl without a father, fund Lila’s education, and so on. A recurring memorial concert is planned to help raise funds for the family, and friends will be pulling together to do what we can.
Farewell Matthew – we love you and miss you. But as Matthew’s brother put it yesterday:
You are vibration, you are music.