This past week was probably the roughest and best week of my life. Monday morning October 31st 2016, at 7:42 AM my mother text me letting me know that my Grandfather “Joe Buddy” had passed away earlier that morning. He was at stage four with his cancer, so we knew it was coming eventually barring a miraculous recovery. In that same text message, my mother let me know that my grandmother wanted me to do a poem at the funeral, and of course I agreed. I figured that the funeral wouldn’t happen until next week, so I was fine. However; on Wednesday, things got kind of scary for me because I was informed that the funeral was on Saturday November the 6th and I was going to be a pallbearer. I loved my Grandfather and was honored to be doing double duty at the funeral but there was still a problem, I was booked to perform that same day.
Let’s back up to a few weeks prior, as my wife and I were participating in a time of praying and fasting during our church’s time of Consecration. I was praying and fasting for three weeks and then something miraculous happened. I got a call during the last week of fasting from a worship coordinator at a fairly large church. Evidently he had seen some footage of some performances of mine via Facebook and wanted to book me for Saturday and Sunday services at his church. We worked out the details and he continued to contact me a couple of times a week every week leading up to the event. He was excited, I was excited, and everything seemed like it was on track.
Fast forward to the week of the funeral and the event, I was kind of worried. I knew the funeral was going to start at 12 noon and the event I was supposed to perform at didn’t start until 5pm and they wanted me there at 4pm for mic check. I figured that I would be able to go to the funeral and leave and go to the event, but that was until I had been told I was a pallbearer. Now I couldn’t slip out as the pallbearers carry the coffin to the hearse and from the hearse to the gravesite. Now I was a little worried, because certain funerals have a stereotype for being long winded and going over time. I talked with my wife and decided not to worry. I called the Worship Pastor and explained the situation, prayed and left it in the Lord’s hands. I felt at peace.
The funeral ended up going very fast so much so that I had time to be there for the event and ended up going to the church to eat and talk to family. I told a few family members where I was going and they were supportive. One of my worries was that some may have thought I was choosing poetry over family or even my Grandfather, but that was not the case. Even though I had family fly in from California, some from North Carolina who were leaving Saturday night, and those I hadn’t seen in years, I still did what I had to do.
I said all of that to make a point which is this: could you, an up and coming artist, have done that? Could you participate in a program to lay to rest a close relative and then go perform for strangers less than two hours later? I’m no exception, I’m sure many of your favorite artists have had to do something similar, especially when there is money on the table. Can you miss out on family functions when required for the sake of advancing your artistic career? On days when you don’t feel talented, when you are doubting if you are supposed to do this, when family and friends don’t believe, can you still push through and persevere? These are good questions to ask yourself before you even get started or before you get started down this road. The life of an artist is not for the faint of heart.