This is a piece from Tentative Armor called “Five Tasks of Grief.” I’ve performed it a few times and have really fantastic videos from each performance, but it just hasn’t felt right to share this piece out of the context of the show – not to mention the fact that it is such a painful story that deals with the time I spent caring for my mother during the last three weeks before she passed away.
I was taking to some new friends tonight and trying to describe my show, and then thinking later about how I am always timid to say how proud I am of my work. I think this show is really unique and unlike many things out in the world. I guess why I decided it’s finally time to share this piece. People who haven’t seen the show have only my half-assed, self-deprecating description of the show and the fun, easy to digest moments that have shared on these internets.
“Five Tasks of Grief” is hard. I could barely get through this performance of it without losing my shit, and rehearsing it often leads to, well, losing my shit but I think it is important to share it. After I performed it for the first time at Judson Memorial Church last year, a woman I didn’t know came up to me and gave me a massive hug. She told me she was going through a similar experience with her grandmother and feeling so alone. Hearing my story helped her. A number of people have shared with me that the sister song (if you will) to this piece, “Go.” has brought them comfort and support in times of grief.
I had the first part of this piece written for several weeks before I finally shared it with my director Adam Fitzgerald. I had gotten through the part where I get the call from my brother. When I told Adam that I wasn’t sure where to go with it, he asked, “Well, what are the five tasks of grief?”
That’s when I realized I had written this piece about a piece of paper whose contents I’d still not been able to give more than a passing glance. Soon after that I had the idea of interspersing the entries from the daily gratitude lists I kept during that time between the five tasks read by my dear friend Daaimah Mubashshir. The piece was finished soon after that. This is the performance of it from last March, which was the first time I performed it with my spectacular string section.
Of course, I should add here that you can help get this piece and the rest of the show in the hands of more people by pre-ordering the Tentative Armor book and/or album over on my kickstarter page. I believe in this work of mine, as difficult as that is to put in writing.
Thanks for reading all of this, and I welcome your comments about this piece. It really means a great deal to me, and I am happy to be in a place where I am able to share it.