Last year I participated in the 2966 Project, an internet commitment to pick a victim of the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center, learn about their life and post a tribute to them. On today, the 6th anniversary of the attack, I want to repost what I wrote that day about Rebecca Lee Koborie.
"A Requiem for Rebecca" - Sept 11
Today is September 11.
I've struggled deciding what to post about Rebecca Lee Koborie on the actual day. I've spent the last several days posting tidbits, remembrances, tributes and anecdotes of her life that have been left in various places online.
One thing that comes up time and time again was Rebecca's obvious love of music and performing. That's something that easily and quickly resonated with me as I have been in love with music my whole life. I continue to be involved a great deal in many different musical expressions, including church music, a band, musical theatre, even just singing with my kids in the car. This evening I discussed with some friends that sometimes I feel I love music so much that I lose sight of God in the notes and words and rhythms. They correctly pointed out to me that in many cases, God is
the notes and words and rhythms. His voice reverberates in the songs of a choir, the sound of a marching band, an orchestra, a string quartet, a cabaret band, a soloist, a duet, a pianist, a cellist, a drummer, a harpist. Sometimes most eloquently in the sweet, pure voice of a child singing "Jesus Loves Me."
In Les Miserable
the final line of the show is "To love another person is to see the face of God"...I've always firmly believed that to hear music is to hear the voice of God.
Therefore I quickly discovered the fact that Rebecca was randomly assigned to me not by chance, but by some sort of design. Her deep involvement with music allowed her to be one of those lucky folks that convey the voice of God to her brothers and sisters in music.
On September 11, 2001 that particular instrument was stilled.
I never met her, never heard her sing. According to one person she was a mezzo-soprano, which to me is one of the loveliest tones a female vocalist can possess. I also never heard her play the piano, which unlike any other instrument can invoke emotional reactions that audiences never realized they had. I will never hear her play, either.
I thought for a while that this final post would be a rumination on the loss of a musical artist to the world, how her voice would never again inspire, create, emote, or cherish. I thought I could best pay tribute to her by remembering her song.
But then I thought some more, and a deeper meaning came to me.
If I speak with the languages of men and of angels, but don't have love, I have become sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal.
I Corinthians 13:1
What Paul meant was that one can sing, one can play an instrument, one can create beautiful music - but if there is no love in your heart, the music is hollow and empty.
I have no idea if Rebecca was religious, but I feel certain she would've agreed with this passage. And I feel strongly that while it's a tragedy a great musical talent was lost five years ago, something more important was lost. And the comments on the tribute sites, while almost always mentioning music, consistently mentioned something else. She was a good friend.
She was also a daughter. And a sister. And an aunt.
All the people I've read who offered stories of Rebecca remember her for her kindness, her friendship, her love. If she didn't have these traits, and if these traits didn't come through in her music, few people would've remembered her. She cared about her friends and her family as much or more than she cared about music. The music was simply a way to express her love of life and those around her.
God's voice spoke through her, and used the music to help her express her love and caring.
So while the world lost a wonderful musician that I will never hear, more importantly the world lost what might've one day been a good friend. She lived in New Jersey and worked in New York so it's doubtful we would have ever met, but now that chance is gone forever. And along with the many, many people's whose lives she touched and continues to touch to this day, there are hundreds and maybe thousands of people she will never touch because her life was taken from her too soon.
I miss her. And I never met her. But I'll think about her from time to time when I hear a piano.
I titled this post "Requiem for Rebecca"
. But it's not a dirge, not a song of sadness. It's not largo
. This requiem is full of joy, it's andante
, or cantabile
because the lives she touched will always remember her and rejoice because of it. Even if they never knew her.If you knew Rebecca, or had some connection and would like to contact me with personal stories or anecdotes, please email me at email@example.com. I'd especially love to hear from family members and friends who can tell me more about her musical interests and history with music.
Rebecca, I never met you and I miss you.