I heard the voices beyond the mountains….the roar of magical laughter, as if the dark shroud of midnight has, at long last, enlightened from its dormancy to shine again.
To see these faces again is to understand timelessness; to be in their presence was to feel how minute time really is.
Facebook, as I’ve often defended to it’s increasing claque of naysayers, has been a great tool for many reasons, especially for we, the catalysts, in our searches – not for the long-lost youth we’d be imprudent to hope for, but for those friends who’ve floated onto other paths because, well…life happens. And it granted one wish of mine…to see my friends again…
So here we were, gathered, like her children beckoned home…to celebrate Anne’s retirement. And it was as if mere months, weeks, days – even moments – had abated instead of the actual decades that filled the scope between. How can that be? How can it be that the billions of instances have dissipated into mere fragments of time? How can the once intangible feel so innately corporeal?
That is the power of true friendship. Years drift, storms pass, (again) life happens, and the sojourns once so clearly embarked upon twist into countless labyrinths until you somehow lose your way from the palpable breath you once shared. Yet, the invisible threads – those ghosts that haunt you – are what forever connects you. And, eventually, if you tug long enough, even if ever-so-delicately, you eventually pull your hearts together to once again gather in the sanctuary that is friendship.
Friends and loved ones of the enchanting Dianne and Theresa understand that to know them is to love them, sure, but it is also to howl with unparalleled abandon…I haven’t laughed as I laughed this evening in so long it that it pained my gut for hours, temporarily losing my voice in the process. Incandescent Nissa – my once and (hopefully) future musical muse has the most infectious laugh that only parallels her natural beauty (it was a dream come true – and a hoot – recreating, to the best of our memory – an out-take of our ‘album cover’ that we took back in 1985 on Staten Island). Julie and Lillian (like Theresa and Dianne) seemingly have portraits slowly aging in the attic, because time has only enchanted them. Again, how? And to have Spike – a constant in my life for over 30 years – share this experience was a natural. He was Anne’s musical compatriot during most of our shows and bore witness to thousands of hours of our memories.
And Luz, oh Luz…what she did had me in awe. Having the honor of hearing that…that…VOICE…sing MEMORY, after far too many years, was akin to having the gates of heaven open and the angels sing upon us. And, still I quiver in the wonderment of the moment. Luz’s dedication was a spur of the moment decision – a gorgeous way of honoring Anne, decades after she performed it during the 1983 International Festival Of The Arts to such an astounding ovation (in which Anne, of course, accompanied on piano) that an encore was immediately heralded. A highlight of the night was sitting at our table while the party danced, quoting the lyrics for Luz while she wrote them on a used envelope because a sheet of paper was nowhere to be found.
And, as she sang (and before the first verse was even finished) Table 2 (our table) was in tears…again…
And what of Anne? Words can be spoken or written celebrating Anne and her years as an educator, as a musical icon, as a sister, daughter, friend. But those words, as true as any words would ever be spoken or written, wouldn’t (couldn’t) do justice to the woman she is. I will never forget when she held my hand through my dark ages…for giving me a home when I had no home, for giving me a spirit when I lost my soul…all those years ago…with unconditional love, because, well, that was…is…Anne.
Lillian said it best when she so eloquently and beautifully wrote, to Anne:
Ms. Rebold….I had to find the words to give you the utmost and most sincere Thank You I could find from the bottom of my heart….so here it is….as if our actions could not speak any louder…..I hope you realize just as I did Wednesday nite…just how special and truly a part of my life you have remained for the last 27 years. Having an 18 year old now….and experiencing the teenage realities through her….really brings closure to me as to the very big role you actually played in my life off stage as well as on stage. Looking around the table at all the old familiar faces just made me realize how many of our gaps you were able to close for us at this very delicate age. We all dealt with…as many teenagers do….insecurities that could have affected our life long term. You, my dear, sweet, teacher, friend, mentor…..managed to close those gaps for us….helping us to build each of our individual beautiful bridges of life……Wednesday night…you turned on the lights of those bridges for all of us and made us realize what a “Spectacular” show our “Memories” will always be. Love you!! Please stay in touch. xoxoxoxo Lillian Mandracchia
Such has been the impact of Anne Rebold…
Twenty-seven years ago, during some of my most starless days, I wrote the following song for Anne. And twenty-seven years later, not a single word can be changed. Time knows no limits when you’re unafraid, and, while the distance prevailed, again, love remained behind. The opportunity and privilege to still be able to call her my friend makes my heart glad…
to be (Re)bold…
Who may be so wrong…
they may never be so right?
I sailed so often to hell and back
I lived through all the unfaithful attacks
I survived the coincidences
and all the love I lacked
But I had you on my left wing
While we rode the serpents back
With you I steered through polluted skies
With you I made stable the hurricane sighs
As I glanced into the mirror
and simply asked “why?”
I couldn’t see my reflection until there appeared your eyes
Who may live through jovial times…
…alone yet baring no fight?
But through it all you grasped my hand
I could lay my head upon your shoulder
You didn’t mind my endless tears
You lifted me, eminent, made me bolder
You placed me upon the pedestal
…as high as Mount Olympus
And I cried…Mother Earth, how I cried
Yet, through it all
…through the invisible figure in the mirror
…through the blinded eyes within my soul
…through the abysmal depths of pain I endured
I had you there, tangible and wise
I had your soul…from a child to man
…to be (Re)bold
September 2, 1983
Congratulations again, Anne. Along with Dianne, Theresa, Nissa, Luz, Lillian, Julie and Spike – and the others who so wanted to be here on this night but could not – I raise the proverbial glass and honor you – and all of us. Here’s to yesterday, here’s to today, here’s to tomorrow….
***All photos by Kathy Valentine (except “the original” of Nissa and me)