It has been nearly two years since I last blogged, and I have finally gathered the strength and attention span to sit down and share a little bit about what’s being going on in my life and career in the last few years.
I won’t lie to you friends, some years are harder than others. Nearly three years ago, my beloved Grandma passed away. She was my favorite person, and I still haven’t fully reconciled the fact that I am enjoying some of the most wonderful times in my career, and my grandma isn’t here to share them with me. Of course, I feel her with me but it’s just not the same. I wasn’t able to be with her at the end of her life, and I had to endure her funeral via FaceTime, but I am grateful for the technology that allowed me to at least be there in that way.
On March 24, 2015 I got a call that I will never forget. My dear friend Maria, her baby boy Felix and her partner Sascha had been killed on their German Wings flight from Barcelona to Dusseldorf. The days and weeks that followed became a deeper and more horrible nightmare when it was discovered that it wasn't a mechanical malfunction but a suicidal copilot that had deliberately driven the plane into the side of the mountain, murdering all of those aboard. Tragedies like this will never ever make sense. As a Virgo, I look for a reason and something to help me figure out who, what, why, where, when and how. Those questions cannot and will not be answered for me when it comes to this situation. I miss her every day. This young woman, full of light and laughter, who had a stunningly beautiful voice and a fierce love for her family was taken away from this world in an instant. I cannot understand it or pack it away neatly. I will never comprehend why she and her family were killed. I will never be on a plane without thinking about Maria and her dear family. It is simply and horrifically something that is now a part of my life.
The past three years also held new life and new experiences. My sister gave birth to a beautiful baby boy, and my two nieces are growing into such incredible young ladies. I’ve fallen in and out of love, I’ve gathered more air miles than I thought anyone could, and I’ve seen parts of the world that I’ve dreamed about since I was a child. My dearest friends have gotten married, had babies and have conquered the world with their successes. In these past three years, I’ve had some of the most amazing performing experiences that I could ever imagine. Singing Elisabeth at the Proms, Sieglinde with Zubin Mehta in Valencia, Donald Runnicles in Berlin (one of the best nights of my life), with Johannes Debus in Atom Egoyan's iconic production in Toronto, my NYC debut recital, my first Four Last Songs with Marcus Stenz, my first Immolation Scene and my first Siegfried Brünnhilde, my first commercial recording (all with the wonderful Paul Daniels), my first Peter Grimes, my first (and only if I have anything to say about it) Fledermaus, Eglantine in Euryanthe, my debut with Oper Frankfurt and many other amazing and utterly unreal gigs. I have been incredibly fortunate.
I suppose that one of the reasons it’s been difficult to write a blog recently is that I definitely suffer from survivor's guilt. My Grandma is gone, and she was the only person in my family who truly understood me and what I wanted to do with my life. I couldn’t be there for her when she needed me, yet I also know she would not have wanted me to miss the production I was working on at the time. She would have yelled at me if I had gone back to Spokane and missed out on singing. She gave me the gift of music and I know she would have been furious with me if I had canceled things for her. It doesn’t change the fact that I feel incredibly guilty and sad. What gave me the right to enjoy a career full of wonderful things while Maria’s entire family was taken away in a moment. How is it fair? The answer is that it’s just not. It is not fair at all. However, the only way I can figure out how to go on is to just keep singing. That is the only way I know how to honor them and their memory. Maria and my Grandma were two of the most genuine, loving, and fiercest women I have ever known. It would be an insult to them and their memory if I had curled up in a ball and refused to go outside. I must continue to love and live and celebrate and do dangerous and exciting things because there are those that can't anymore.
I used to think that opera singers had a life full of sparkles and mascara. In reality, we are human like everyone else and we suffer and enjoy the same kinds of moments that everyone else does. I am thankful for that. I am thankful that I am here and alive and that I get to share these thoughts and my singing with the world. It’s a responsibility I do not take as lightly as I perhaps once did. I am also thankful that I have at least two guardian angels watching over me telling me to keep singing, to keep trying, and to keep going. I will not disappoint you, ladies.