Last Saturday I sang with the MetropoliTones at a memorial service for Natalie.  I did not know Natalie personally — she was a good college friend of another member of the MetropoliTones.  Natalie passed away unexpectedly a little over two years ago.  Recently her family had coordinated with the City of New York to dedicate a bench in Central Park in her name.  Our performance last Saturday was at the official dedication ceremony for Natalie’s bench.

It was a perfect day in the city — a clear blue sky with a warm bright sun.  The park was filled with runners on the paths, sunbathers on the grassy hills, and legions of horse-drawn, tourist-filled carriages.  Natalie’s bench was at the top of one of those grassy hills.

During the ceremony, Natalie’s family and friends shared many wonderful memories, played music and read poems in her honor.  One of her friends read a poem called Dragonfly, a beautifully written allegory about crossing over from life on Earth into the Spirit World.  I was so touched by the poem that tears welled up in my eyes.

We were scheduled to sing “Seasons of Love” (from the musical Rent) at the end of the ceremony.  I was concerned I would not make it through our performance without crying.  I also worried I might get so caught up in emotion that I would forget the words to the song.  I did not want to mess up this very important moment!

Fortunately, “Seasons of Love” went off without a hitch — I remembered the words, and although my eyes were tearing up quite a bit, I managed to keep my throat calm enough so that I could actually sing.  We remembered and celebrated Natalie’s life through song, drawing strength from each other and from the spirit of the music.  As we raised our voices in harmony, I felt our collective celebration of Natalie’s life cut through the sadness and resonate through the park, across the clear blue sky and through the universe.  The horse-drawn carriages stopped and lingered, the runners in the park slowed their pace, and time seemed to stand still for a few short minutes.

The ceremony ended soon after we sang.  Family and friends came over to thank us, but I was the one who felt grateful.  Natalie’s bench dedication was a magical, sacred moment in time, and I was honored to be a part of it.