Who will cry for her?

for mezzo-soprano and guitar

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This text was written by Rev. Kathleen W. Haynes in April 2020, after she officiated a
funeral which, due to COVID-19 restrictions, was sparsely attended and socially-distanced. During this time, mourners are compelled to find ways to connect with loved ones without the traditional practice of physically gathering together.

Vocal range: G3–D5. Arrangements for other voice types and piano are in progress.

Watch the Bowers Fader Duo performing Who will cry for her?:

I only learned of her death the evening before.
I made a few phone calls out in the drizzle in the backyard
because I don’t have good reception in my home.
I prayed over the phone with someone as the church bells rang next door,
drowning out my words
and as I said “Amen” my voice began to break.
I loved her but I hadn’t seen her in months.
And I wept for her.
The next morning, I woke to memories of her.
She and I had talked about this day.
It wasn’t much of what I wanted for her.
But I was there. Her friend was there.
Her daughter and granddaughter were there.
There were almost more people from the funeral home than those to say goodbye.
I was able to sing.
The song she said many times she wanted at her funeral.
And after we committed her body to the ground and I gave the benediction,
I began to cry again.
This was something I had been trained not to do.
Something lectured against, something said to be selfish.
But the words, “Who will cry for her?” rang clear in my mind and heart.
I have learned over the years that sometimes it is I
who needs to give grief permission to be here.
“Who will cry for her?”
I will cry for her.
I will cry for her as one who loved her.
I will cry for all those who because of this bizarre day and age cannot be present at her burial.
“Who will cry for her?”
I will cry for her.
And as I cried, my eyes met her granddaughter’s eyes.
We could not embrace, we could not stand close, but we could both cry.