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For Aretha Franklin

August 14, 2018
This has turned out to be a sacred night, as millions of souls are saying to others, “Did you hear that Aretha is dying?” There’s the quiet hush of a collective deathwatch, as we throw our prayers to God that they might be roses on her path. I once read that no matter how old you are, the music of your youth is the music of your soul. To say Aretha Franklin’s is the music of my soul is to vastly understate her effect upon my life. Hers was more than the music of my soul; she was in many ways the opener of my soul, a light on my path, a goddess who chanted what I could not chant and cooed what I could not coo and howled from the depths that I had not yet reached. How I remember, as a woman in my 20s, the sacred rite of opening a new Aretha album, putting it on the turntable and sitting for hours just listening. To this day, I know her phrases and notes, I have lived inside them, I remember the tears of both joy and sorrow for which they have been the soundtrack of my life. She opened me and guided me, she uplifted me and soothed me, she accompanied me and spoke for me. While I never met her, she was one of the loves of my life. To have even lived at a time when she was singing to us – for what more could anyone ask? And while I cry as I write this, it is not for her. Such preparations must be happening now, such trumpets and harps must be tuning up, such angels even now must be singing her home. How does one say thank you to such a soul as she?

Dear God,
Please bless your phenomenal daughter.
And thank you for lending her genius to us.
May she know the joy of a million smiles,
for such joy she gave to us.
Amen

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