Last night My Beloved and I went to the St. Michael's Choir School 70th Anniversary Gala at Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto with my sister and my Dad, who is one of the oldest living graduates of the school. I won't reveal exactly how old, but let's just say he's got Choir School buddies that he's known for close to 70 years and leave it at that...
It was a wonderful night. Truly extraordinary. My heart was still so full this morning just thinking about what a good time my Dad had and how happy he looked, the sound of his laughter still ringing in my ears.
But because we were there, I wasn't home to light my candle at 7:00pm. I started thinking about this, and about Thomas, midway through the first half of the show. A pianist was playing something I should probably know the name of but don't, and my eyes drifted from the stage where his hands were flying across the keys up towards the hall's great circular ceiling.
I sat looking up, hearing the music and thinking of Thomas, and in that moment it suddenly felt like the entire hall was filled with him - with his presence and his being. I felt it surge up from the middle of the hall, burst up to the ceiling, and wrap itself along the curved walls right to my seat.
And the moment I felt it - the second I acknowledged what the feeling was - it disappeared. He left as fast as he came. I tried to summon him back - to look up and feel him there again - but all that was left was music.
And in his wake, a tremendous sense of peace and love.
I fully realize how hokey this sounds, by the way. I know I sound like a bereaved (and slightly insane) mother who really wanted to feel something and conjured up a magical sensation out of thin air at an already emotional event. But I wasn't trying. I wasn't. Yes, I was thinking about Thomas, but I wasn't hoping for some cosmic spiritual reunion. I was just listening to the music and thinking about him like I always do.
It just happens that this time he chose to respond in a very large way.
The enormity of the presence got me thinking about how I actually do think of him. He's my baby. He's my tiny little boy and I think of him as the sweet and beautiful newborn he was in my arms. I call myself Mommy when I talk to him, and I speak to him like he's a child.
But the spirit I felt last night, so large and warm and loving, was bigger than me. Bigger than the building and everyone in it combined.
Big enough to fill a concert hall in the blink of an eye and leave it just as fast.
Skeptics may scoff (and that's their prerogative), but I know what I felt. I know exactly what that was last night, and I think I know why he came. The event meant so much to me, to my Dad and to our whole family, and I think he wanted me to know that he was there too. That he's a part of our lives in as big a way as can be, even when we don't realize it - and especially when we don't think it's even possible.
I used to dream that one day I'd send Thomas to the Choir School so he could continue the tradition his Grandfather started 69 years ago. He'll never be a student at the school or sing with the choir or forge 6-decade old friendships like my Dad, but last night he was able to let me know that he's a part of it all too, in a way that only he can be.
And last night it was every bit as good as if he was sitting there beside me, holding my hand and listening to the music rise gently to the ceiling.