The night I was wheeled into the hospital room after my mastectomy was the only snowy eve that winter. My neighbour in the bed next to me kept incanting the names of the nuns she knew from St. Ann’s. I recognized the name of one of them as she is a reiki master a dear friend had studied with. I spent that night drifting in and out of sleep, the names of the nuns swirling about the room like the snowflakes drifting outside. I was later to meet Sister Eileen and had the great honour of going to her home for a healing. I told her the story of how she was with me that winter’s night.
This has been a tricky time of year for me, even before my mastectomy. I lost my Dad on Christmas Eve at home, in front of the tree. It was not unexpected, other than we thought we had more time. We listened to one of his favourite artists, Loreena McKennitt, as he made his transition from this world.
Dad was my biggest musical supporter. I think he desired a musical career for me more than I wanted it myself. After he passed I buckled down and wrote The Whiplash Curve, determined to make something of my music.
I’ll always be proud of what we achieved with that recording, but touring and hustling and finding an audience for it was not to be, as I was diagnosed with cancer, just like my Dad, soon after its release. Once I got through the months of gruelling treatment I set to work resurrecting my project and conceived of re-launching with a video for Oh My Heart. I had something to reveal in this video. A scar that let the light in.
We filmed some of the scenes in a dance studio located in a beautiful old church. To sit around half-naked in a spiritual place with about 20 crew and volunteers while my mastectomy scar was painted in gold leaf took some courage! I’ve never been that much of an exhibitionist. This was my moment of acceptance of my post-surgical body.
I find I’m thinking about these things a lot lately because life and music are so cyclical. I’m singing with a choral group called Ensemble Laude these days. It’s an amazing repertoire of medieval, Nordic and contemporary Canadian works. And wouldn’t you know it, our big winter concert is taking place in the very church where I had my moment of acceptance. The place is incredibly dear to me now. We’ve had a couple of rehearsals there over the last week. Every time I step through the doors I am filled with heartfelt thanks… to still be alive, to have learned a lesson in kindness towards myself, to be singing such profound music of utter beauty which my Dad would have loved, but be singing it without needing to prove something to him. Singing in Latin, these pure-voiced songs of Ursuline nuns, feels like a fitting devotional to honour a certain Sister who will be in the audience as I raise my voice up with Ensemble Laude in deep gratitude.
More info about our concerts in Victoria, BC on Dec 16th and 17th can be found here: www.ensemblelaude.org.
Wishing you peace and contentment this holiday season. Ever in the light...