Winnipeg's Jazz Magazine


Finding Grace

Written by:

On December 14, I shared with millions of others a surge of dread as the first reports of a school shooting in Connecticut emerged. My heart leaned toward the worried parents, the traumatized children, an entire community awash in anguish.

Then, suddenly and inexorably, across all the miles, we became part of that anguish, because one of the young victims is a sprite of a girl many of us here in Winnipeg knew.

There’s a considerable distance between the heartache you feel on behalf of people dealing with incomprehensible suffering, and the very specific, numbing grief that rushes you when you know and love those shattered people. You cross the chasm between sympathetic observer and bewildered mourner.

What happened in that Connecticut school is unspeakable. What each of those grieving parents, siblings, grandparents, friends, faces in the aftermath is also unspeakable. All of us who circle around them can only struggle to make do with meager words and ineffectual gestures.

The day after the tragedy, I walked through the park in our neighborhood where little Ana used to play. I thought about Jimmy Greene, about Nelba Márquez-Greene, about young Isaiah Greene. The trees were cloaked in hoarfrost, as if every branch had dressed itself to mark the day. White, hushed, delicate. Solace has many forms.

As twilight settled in, I sat in my warm house and listened to “Ana Grace,” the song Jimmy composed to celebrate his daughter. The notes hum with Ana’s sweetness and the deep love that links the family together. As the music swirled around me, it occurred to me that the irrevocable pain of death, the breathtaking privilege of life, and all those moments in between, big and small, where deep meaning offers itself to us—all of these experiences are beyond words. Unspeakable. They fill us to the brim. What I hear so clearly in Jimmy’s tune is his amazement, his joy, his honour at being Ana’s dad. It breaks my heart and heals it.

Our laughter, our wonder, our fear, sorrow, anger, hope: these are our riches, these are life’s gifts, and in sharing them, we create the slender but powerful network of connection that holds us together in an extended family of care. Always reaching, like the fleeting notes of Jimmy song, for communion to counter isolation and meaninglessness. This, it seems to me, is being alive.

Ana Grace: her name is a double blessing. Our hearts reach out to her aching family and the community that has been so devastated by senseless violence. Our hearts go out to one another too, as we begin the work of remaking the world, striving for that state of grace.

Copyright! © 2023 dig! magazine.