The epitaph on Chris’s grave marker says, “Music Was My Refuge.” It is a most appropriate way to remember a man who was a church choir director, a pianist and an organist, a community theater actor, a Norwegian Folk dancer, and a longtime patron of the opera and symphony.
In the months after Chris died, I started planning a concert in his honor to raise money for the American Brain Tumor Association (ABTA). Choir members were truly devastated by his death and welcomed the chance to perform for him one last time. And I wanted a way to memorialize Chris near the one-year anniversary of his passing.
I spent countless hours organizing the Chris Diez Memorial Concert. I planned everything from the music we performed, which included songs from our wedding and some from the funeral, to publicity and ticket sales. His friends, the current choir director and an army of volunteers helped bring my vision to life. And on January 10, 2010, 600 people packed the church to share in a beautiful musical tribute. I welcomed the audience and also sang some solos throughout the concert. Just over $9,000 was raised for the ABTA. The afternoon was a remarkable success.
People conveyed their surprise to me afterwards that I was able to talk in front of 600 people let alone sing in front of them. They just could not grasp how a recent widow could put together such a large-scale event and grieve at the same time. But what they didn’t realize was that by doing, I was grieving. They weren’t mutually exclusive activities.
Over the past year, I have learned that grief comes in all shapes and sizes. And for me, doing something tangible–pouring my blood, sweat and tears into this concert–was a healing step in the grief process. The concert was not just about Chris or the American Brain Tumor Association. It was also about me and my journey through grief.
So, in the end, I guess that music was my refuge as well.