This is a lovely piece from Cathy Rytmeister posted on her Facebook page and reproduced here with her kind permission. It encapsulates the wonderful inclusiveness and sense of community that is at the heart of our folk community especially at this time of collective grieving and loss.
It has been a very sad week for the folkie family, with the loss of much-loved characters from the vast and diverse crowd of familiar festival faces. I think we’re feeling it all the more because there is so much uncertainty about when – or whether – we can come together again to celebrate those lives in a way that matches their contribution to our own.
Our impulse and longing for collective mourning and remembering is frustrated by the pandemic. Our festivals are in abeyance, the scope of our sharing of music and friendship has shrunk to small gatherings and screen-mediated “contact”. We can’t give and receive the hugs and share the stories and beers and tears that we would in normal times.
But anyone who doubts that we are indeed a community, held together by common experiences, the love of music and song shared and enjoyed together, and a strong sense of caring for each other, needs only to scroll through this week’s Facebook posts responding to the sad news we’ve had this week. And not just this week, but the responses to those who so generously and graciously and courageously shared their journeys with us, almost to the very end.
We have seen loving words in tribute, words of comfort for those left behind, hearts and hugs for our fellow mourners, songs and poems and stories and photos and videos… a collective canon of perspectives on those lives and the gifts they gave, that is so, so much more than the sum of its parts.
This isn’t a fairytale – our folkie community has its arguments, its differences, its factions and camps… but when it comes to the big things, loss and grief, my god we know how to hold each other close and support each other, even if it means doing it through emoji hugs instead of real ones, and glasses raised across the miles instead of together, and stories told on social media instead of at a wake, and tears shed in loungerooms and kitchens and cars instead of funerals and memorial gatherings.
I hope the collective outpouring of love and care from all over the world brings some comfort to the people closest to those who departed this week, as well as to the wider – much wider! – circle of those who knew, loved, liked and/or admired them.
“For the song goes on in the songs we sing
And when one song ends then another one begins
So the singers who are gone will be singing once again
When we sing the songs they sang”
From “The Song Goes On by Mick Ryan