Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Witch 1 Now singing in a Higher Choir

Witch 1.  That was the vanity plate on Barbara's car.  We followed that license plate for many blocks after we left Riverview the night she died.  Robert, her only son, was driving her car home.  Barbara was was already singing in the Goddess's choir - her life was her audition for the eternal gig.  

I had first learned of Barbara Yussack and her Sacred Dance circles almost 15 years ago, through an organization we both passed through at slightly different times - Women Healing for Change. ( also met the beautiful Linda Zacharias, and her then-fiance Henry, and many other bright lights and precious souls) - but Barbara and I never connected.  The dance nights were always on the wrong night (I worked retail shift work) - it just wasn't meant to be "then".

Nicole brought Barbara to Musique Magique a couple years back saying "this woman has a voice!" and Barbara slipped into the Bass/Tenor section seamlessly.  She corrected our pronunciation in Tibyeh Pyom.  She taught us a sacred dance or two - even though her body was often in pain - sore joints and muscles, and her asthma kept her short of breath.

And she sang.  Oh, how she sang. We sang together pretty much weekly - sang in public a few times, sang for healing, sang for joy - she sang from a bottomless well of devotion and reverence and deep and abiding joyful faith in the Goddess and the God.  Hecate, Baba Yaga, Herne - and by many other names.  

She lived in a place of deep connection - shared songs from her singing herstory - welcomed us into her home - visited our home - shared her wisdom and humor at potlucks - and became a gazelle the night that Stuart led us in an active meditation / sacred dance.  She held energy at Earth Hour.  We talked about her teaching us Sacred Dance - to pass the knowledge on, to share all she knew - and had started finding dates to get together  - but between her job, winter weather, and her health considerations - it just didn't happen.

She hadn't been feeling well since Yule - but she persevered to keep to her routine - winning a dozen small battles every day to work, make music, live, laugh, love greatly and make a difference to everyone who knew  her - we were always touched by her strength and fortitude.

And then - suddenly, she was in the hospital - and things went from bad to worse.  She was so brave - facing a host of tests and a terminal diagnosis like a warrior woman who knows she is going to lose one more battle (mortality) to win another (to dwell with the Goddess she served for so many years).

Before the end, there were some very bad days (Victoria Day weekend  - very very bad). She lasted another week while the tumors finally squeezed the life force out of her.  Her passing was the most peaceful night of the previous 4 weeks - and she took a deep breath in this world, and her next breath in a place without pain.

Those of us who loved her, sang with her, danced with her, worshipped with her - miss her terribly.  We are so grateful that she is free from pain.  She gave the gift of sight to two strangers - a final act of love in the name of the Goddess.  She also left some of us with amazing going - away gifts - connection to people from other circles she moved in - strangers with similar interests and congruent paths now becoming deep friends and weavers of magic and singers of the sacred songs - and reconnection to old friends gathering together in grief, and laughing to see each other again - and crying at the reason why.

I am now of the age where I have attended more funerals in the last five years than I have weddings.  The "mortality insulation layer" - the grandparents, great aunts/uncles, even aunts/uncles - is getting thinner each year - both my parents are still alive, and a couple aunts/uncles, but I'm getting closer to the top of the pyramid of life.  An old friend was once told that "you don't know who you are until your parents die"and I am starting to see how true that is, and I'm not there yet.

I learned a lot in the past few weeks, but this post isn't meant to be about me.  Those lessons will be revealed in this space over time.

Barbara was a gift.  She was a healer.  She was a #1 in the Enneagram - right to the end, even when it may not have served her as well as she would have liked.

We draped her body in her shawl from the Earth Charter singers, which is painted with the words "In Living Faith, we make our way, together".  Barbara lived her faith, and made her own way in a world that was often less than kind - and she always found people to connect to and share with and give to and receive from - to remain whole.  She brought people together -and still is.  

I knew her well. I wish I had known her better - longer - deeper - and I know I will connect with her in some other place, and we'll sing together again.

Barbara Yussack – June 2, 1951 - May 22, 2009

After a brave and brief battle with cancer, our beautiful bass witch Barbara has left us to sing for a Higher Choir.

She is survived by son Robert, brother Brian, aunts Pauline and Anita, cousin Roddy, and her extended family.

Barbara lived her life of joyful service as a healer, helper, and care-taker to those she loved. Her passions were singing sacred music, teaching sacred circle dancing, and her Wiccan faith. A true Priestess, she will be remembered by the everyone she danced, sang, drummed and worshipped with – especially with the Earth Charter Singers, and Musique Magique.

Her greatest joy was to connect people to music, so in lieu of flowers, donations can be made in her memory to the Ron Oswald Endowment Fund (Winnipeg Folk Festival Office) to connect young people to music/performing. Please sign your organ donor card in her memory. Her final act of love was the gift of sight to two people.

A Celebration of Barbara's life is being held at Voyage Funeral Chapel, Hespeller @ Henderson Hwy, Winnipeg on Saturday, May 30 at 1:00 pm. There will be drumming - sacred dance - singing - it was Barbara's wish that it truly be "a celebration".

"Beyond death, I give peace and freedom, and reunion with those who have gone before" (Doreen Valiente).

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