Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Mom, Josh Groban, and Little Signs

I originally had anticipated writing a post on October 10th about how it didn't seem real that an entire month had passed since Mom passed.  The time has gone by quickly.

Friends have been so kind and said such wonderful things about my mom, my family, and me.  Some friends have talked about how proud Mom is of me, and I'm sure that's true.  Others have talked about the grace with which I've dealt with Mom's illness and death.  If that's true, it's only because my parents taught me to have that grace.

What I really want to talk about today, however, is a Josh Groban concert I attended recently.  While I like Josh Groban's music, I've always found him to be a little more operatic in style than is my personal preference.  I wouldn't call myself a fan, but I enjoy hearing his stuff on occasion.

I remember when Mom was well, she had a Josh Groban CD in the player in her car.  Mom often didn't know how to operate her CD player or radio, and that disc was in her player for a couple of years, at least.  Mom didn't typically have the volume up on her radio/CD player, and when I'd borrow the car on occasion, I'd turn the volume up, and there Josh Groban would be.  I'd usually remove the disc, listen to the radio, then replace the disc and turn the volume back to what it had been.

Mom liked Josh Groban.  I think she thought his stuff was really beautiful.

Jonah also likes Josh.  Actually, Jonah has a voice similar to Josh's in timbre and tone.

Recently I was offered the opportunity to get 2 for 1 tickets to Josh Groban's concert.  I actually considered it because the bottom price tickets in the 2 for 1 deal were not bad at all.  I thought Jonah might like it.  I eventually opted not to get them because we had just taken a trip to Disneyland, and my budget is a bit tight at the moment.  Also, more often than not, Jonah and I don't have the same nights free, so I didn't think he would be able to go anyway.

The day before the concert, my work announced that they had free tickets for his concert.  Evidently, the concert had not sold as well as was expected, and they needed to pad the house a bit.  I called Jonah and asked if he was free the next night.  Much to my surprise, he said he was, and so I asked him if he'd like to see Josh Groban.  He very excitedly said yes.

One of my fellow employees said he couldn't use his, so I took those as well.  Originally, Jonah's sister and a friend of Jonah's were going to go, but his sister canceled because she wasn't feeling well.

Our seats were a couple of rows away from each other.  Jonah knows I don't mind sitting by myself, and he wanted to catch up with his friend, so they sat together and my friend from work, who would have been sitting alone, took the other seat we had, and we sat together.

To my other side were two empty seats which remained empty the entire concert.  I had thought about how much Mom would have enjoyed attending a Josh Groban concert, and so imagined that she and Dad were sitting in those two empty seats.  I'm not sure Dad would have liked Josh Groban as much as Mom did, but I don't think he would have disliked him.  Whether Dad was at the concert or not, I don't know; but I'm quite certain Mom was there.

Josh Groban's opening act was a lady named Judith Hill.  I think she was on "The Voice."  She sang for about a half hour, and I really enjoyed her.  After a half hour break, Josh came out.  He was very charismatic and funny, but a little schlubby looking.  I enjoyed him, though.  He's got a great voice, although I did feel like he went a hair flat at times, though I doubt the majority of his audience noticed or cared.  I also think as he gets older, it will be harder for him to pull those high notes out.  However, he puts on a very good show, and I really thought it was a good concert.

There was one point he sang a song I wasn't familiar with, and they had the audience clapping, and I could just picture Mom clapping along with joy and excitement in her eyes.  It felt like she was right there beside me.

Then later he sang, "To Where You Are," and I just really felt Mom's presence very strongly and the words reminded me of our current situation:

Who can say for certain
Maybe you're still here
I feel you all around me
Your memory's so clear

Deep in the stillness
I can hear you speak
You're still an inspiration
Can it be
That you are mine
Forever love
And you are watching over me from up above

Fly me up to where you are
Beyond the distant star
I wish upon tonight
To see you smile
If only for awhile to know you're there
A breath away's not far
To where you are

Are you gently sleeping
Here inside my dream
And isn't faith believing
All power can't be seen

As my heart holds you
Just one beat away
I cherish all you gave me everyday
'Cause you are my
Forever love
Watching me from up above

And I believe
That angels breathe
And that love will live on and never leave

Fly me up
To where you are
Beyond the distant star
I wish upon tonight
To see you smile
If only for awhile
To know you're there
A breath away's not far
To where you are

I know you're there
A breath away's not far
To where you are 

My friend who was sitting next to me hugged me when the song was over, probably not even realizing how emotionally touched I was by it, but it almost felt like a hug from Mom.

But the clincher, the thing the told me Mom was really there with me was something that happened at the very end of the concert.  After his final song, the audience cheered and gave him a standing ovation, and so he performed an encore, his famous "You Raise Me Up."

Then the band left but Josh remained, and the audience continued cheering, and Josh asked if we wanted another encore, and the audience went crazy.  So the band came back.  Both Jonah and I noticed on his teleprompter that his second encore would be "Smile," the same song Jonah had sung at Mom's funeral.  We were both taken aback by it.

Josh announced he would be singing "Smile," and as he went into it I started crying and I noticed Jonah was crying, too.  And then, through the tears, I just started grinning because I knew Mom was there and letting me know she was there.

I don't believe in coincidences; I really don't.  Josh Groban could have sang any number of songs as his very last song of the evening.  Why that song?  Why did I get free tickets for a concert I never really intended on attending?  Why did Jonah just happen to be free on that night when in the past he hasn't been?  Why the two empty seats next to me?  I just felt like all the elements came together that Mom made her presence known to me.  I really appreciate it because Mom and I had such a close relationship that I've been convinced that if I sought her spirit out, I would feel her presence, and I definitely did at the Josh Groban concert.

So I am very thankful.