As I listen to the Adagio in D Minor from Mozart’s clarinet concerto, it moves me to tears. That hasn’t happened before. Before my life unraveled, listening to Mozart’s nearly perfect, smooth melody, I couldn’t imagine how the music could affect me more.

The family I once had is no more. My wife of fifty years, the daughter she brought with her to our union, both gone. My surviving daughter and I are profoundly changed by our loss. Recently I read that losing a child can cause traumatic grief, an enduring state. Psychologist Joanne Cacciatore found in her research that the person who experiences such a loss sometimes “undergoes a change in awareness from acute introspection to a sense of compassion initially for like others, and eventually for differing others, correspondingly engaging in ever-broadening spheres.”

Reflecting on that, I realized that my personal rebirth is incomplete. I sense that it still goes on, and I am still becoming who I was meant to be. It has taken a lifetime, and it likely will not be done before my life ends.

No one finishes. We live, grow—or we don’t—and then check out, our imperfections preserved, like prehistoric insects caught in amber, for all time—or that fragment of time when some memory endures of our momentary existence.

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