My friend Renée writes some beautiful, achingly personal posts to Facebook about music. Usually opera, but other things as well. I asked if I could share this one here. A note about her – Despite the nose ring, and green hair she mentions (and being well tattooed as well), at the time Renée was the very capable classical music buyer for Tower Records on Castro Street.

I hope she will allow me to share more.

3 November at 09:31 ·
Sometimes you never know. I have watched a hummingbird fly backward and wanted to cry. You never know where another person may be. In the depths of thought,passion, sorrow…we know so little about a stranger.
At Stow Lake in Golden Gate park years ago,watching the ducks and lovers in rowboats, an older woman ( I was in my early twenties), completely in black, maybe 45, caught my eye. I wanted to know her… I needed to. How badly she interested me.
I joined her on the bench.
I did not speak.
Not wanting to intrude on wherever she had gone in her head.
Couples kissed , ducks honked, the boats were few and serene.
“What are you thinking about?” I asked her out of nowhere, not looking at her, I stared straight ahead as if still interested in the lake activity.
She did not answer me.
I did not respond either. I assumed I frightened her. Green hair, leather jacket, nose ring etc. I remained silent on the bench.
Oars splashed in the water…laughter echoed.
“Mahler,” she said.
I am sure she assumed that sounded Greek to me, but I know Mahler a bit, a little bit.
I smiled at her and asked “his 7th symphony?” as it is water themed.
And more silence.
“Kindertotenlieder” she said, she whispered.
We sat, not another word spoken.
Kindertotenlieder is a song cycle Mahler composed based on the death of children. Mahler later lost his daughter.
Sitting beside her, I could feel it, almost touch it, her thoughts, how they weighed on her. How lost she had become in them. Vivid only to her mind’s eye.
We never spoke again. But sat. I stayed until she left. How could I not?