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  • Céline Peterson

The following post was written on Nov 12, 2018.


Earlier this year there was a part of me that thought I would be in Chicago right now preparing to celebrate (Aunt) Audrey Morris' 90th birthday with her. Even though I won't be able to give her a hug, I will be hearing her infectious laugh in my head, recounting memories from my youngest days, listening to music, and raising a glass in honour of one of the most remarkable women I've ever had the privilege to know. Audrey was there for me through every milestone in my life. She helped me with my schoolwork while we were in Barbados, gained quite a collection of photos of me during my short-lived time in ballet classes, clocked many hours hanging backstage with me at Ravinia (as did Mervon, Penny, and Shelly), and stayed on the phone with me when (Uncle) Niels Pedersen passed away and I didn't know what to do or how to comfort my dad, and then again when dad was gone and I didn't know how to comfort myself. There are few things I remember of the few weeks that followed his passing, but one was walking through a sea of people unsure of where I was supposed to be and not a single real familiar face in my immediate vicinity, and then out of nowhere I saw Audrey, who took my hand and without saying a word took me to a safe space where we just sat and talked (about not a single thing of relevance) and then at some point ice cream became involved. Audrey was a force. Her ability to deliver a lyric and make you feel as though you were standing right in the middle of whatever story she was telling is and always will be something that every vocalist should study. The reality is, no one will ever do it the way Audrey did. Add to that her immense talent as a pianist and you will have some of the most awe-inspiring musical experiences of your life. Her repertoire was in no way predictable, which made it in every way beautiful. She introduced me to songs I'd not previously heard, while reintroducing me to the few I did know through her interpretations, which often left me feeling like I had transported into a world where nothing else mattered but the music. While Audrey is not nearly as known as she should be, those of us who do know of her artistry can consider ourselves lucky. She was one of the most honest individuals that I have ever heard perform, and that honesty that you can hear through both her voice and her fingers on the keys, is the same honesty that you get from Audrey as an individual. With her honesty came a unique ability to see elements of life that others couldn't. She was a listener and would take in everything that was being said to her and attempt to get to know whomever she was speaking to even if that was the first and only time they were communicating. Her impressions were lasting and even if you only had a few moments with her, you were sure to remember them. Audrey Morris had a sense of humour that could brighten up any room but was also wicked in the best possible way. She was my favourite scheming partner and never failed to make me laugh so hard that I would be gasping for air at least once during every visit. Even our last visits were full of laughter. She was appreciative of every moment that you spent with her. The idea that we choose where to be in our lives and people were choosing to be with her was something that brought her such warmth, and she made sure you knew it. The elegance, grace, humour, kindness, strength, brilliance, savvy, creativity, and generosity of Audrey Morris will never be forgotten. I will forever be immensely grateful to carry the countless memories we shared with me for the rest of my life. Happy 90th birthday, beautiful Audrey. I will love you always. Audrey Morris: November 12th, 1928-April 1st, 2018 Spring will be a little slow to start A little slow reviving music it made in my heart Yes time heals all things, so I needn't cling to this fear It's merely that spring will be a little late this year







  • Céline Peterson

I'm exhaling after Saturday's news. I'm exhaling after the weekend. I'm exhaling after this year, the last four years, the lead-up to this election and the last. I'm exhaling. This means so much to me. This is not about Joe Biden. For me, it's about Kamala Harris and the history she has made. That is personal for me. It's personal for all the reasons you can think of and then some that you won't.


I've spent the last day watching everything I missed over the weekend. The speeches, the statements, the celebrations, the crying, the laughter, the screaming, the running, the dancing, the jumping, the hugging, the high fives, the fist and elbow bumps. The relief. I've spoken to some friends who are, like me, still cautiously optimistic and having moments where we question how long our joy can last because we know this is just the first in many crucial steps. But, this is a milestone. We must recognize that. I feel recognized. I see elements of myself in Kamala Harris and as special as that is for me, I know that there are so many children who will see themselves in her. That is magical to me.


These past four years have shown many of us things we couldn't even imagine in our worst nightmares. What still now and forever will give me chills is that our worst nightmares were some people's dreams. That is why we still have reason to be cautious. That is why there is still an unimaginably long way to go. While we celebrate, there are people in mourning (that is only those people who actually see the reality of this election and are not refusing to acknowledge reality). There are people in mourning because their hate-filled agenda did not go through. Their wannabe dictator won't get more time. Their support of a racist, fascist, homophobic monster, was not strong enough to overtake the other half of voters in the country. But that right there is the problem. Close to half of the voters in the United States did indeed show their unwavering support for said monster. Half the voters showed that they don't believe in science. Half the voters showed that they support racism. Half the voters showed that so many of us have reason to be scared to walk certain streets for fear of our safety. Half the voters were actively willing to contribute to what would be the ultimate demise of the United States. So, while we have this win and we need to celebrate, we have an exhausting and long road ahead of us. There is so much work to be done. Work that will be challenged at every turn because there are still plenty of people in power who are just as dangerous as DJT.


We all know this election was also always about a desperate attempt to save the democracy within the United States. This election stood in the way of that country forever being changed in a way it may not come back from. In my eyes, this is still something that is at risk. You're watching it happen. You're watching the current President attempt to pull every asinine plot he can out of his behind in hopes that he activates his people. Well, it will. We have reason to be cautious. We have reason to be on the edge of our seats. The families that have been absolutely ripped apart over the last four years, will not all of a sudden be healed. The gap just became even bigger. Parents have disowned children. Siblings will never speak again. Friendships are permanently ended. People will die without saying goodbye and with hate in their hearts. Realities of the ways in which those we love are broken are more real than they ever have been, and because people don't want to hear, don't want to listen, don't want to see, there is nothing we can do. So, we'll suffer. We'll mourn. We'll be angry because we can't ignore this any longer. But my hope is that anyone who is suffering, who is angry, who is hurt, will be able to find their circle. Find the light, find the support. It's there. You probably don't have to look very far.


I am, once again, in this moment, proud to be a citizen of the United States of America. Enjoy this. Let yourself. Exhale. More than once if you can. This is historic. No one can take this away from us no matter how hard they try.


"When every hand joins every hand and together moulds our destiny, that's when we'll be free."




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