Singing With My Family by Kira Kenley

31 Kira Kenley shares her creative dilemmas and decisions every Friday. You can read her earlier posts here

 Go Creative! in Portugal

A family member is dead and we will send him off in typical Irish style. There will be a wake. I must travel to Portugal, which is the place this branch of my family calls home.


Just before I leave for the airport, there is a phone call, would I please sing at the funeral. It would be my great honour. I say this immediately, without needing additional thought or consideration. A hymn is suggested which I do not know but I download it and begin learning it on the plane as I make my way to Faro where my cousin will meet me and drive me to his sister and her late husband’s home.


I sing the song all through the 2 ½ hour flight hoping my voice is lost under the sound of the engine but judging by how the couple beside me glance over every now and then, I surmise that they hear me. Perhaps, they might think I am a nun or a nervous flyer. The thought makes me smile.


Once I get to the villa, I think I’ve learned the song but when I am called upon to sing it, I can’t remember a single word. So I make a suggestion, it is a hymn I have loved all my life and one I know inside out. My cousin Claire, who understandably looks as sad and diminished as I have ever seen her look, loves the song. I will sing this at, her husband, Ray’s funeral.


The day of the funeral arrives following an emotional 24 hours which had seen me reunited with many family members I haven’t seen in years and also brought ‘Ray’ home for his last night under the same roof as his beloved wife. Well his physical body anyway. His spirit will, I have no doubt, remain in the same place it had mostly dwelled while he was alive, as close to his Claire as possible.


We go to the church and the service begins. It is beautiful and I am moved by every measured and meaningful moment. Then comes my time to sing just before the service ends. I make my way to the altar and I am so nervous. My heart is jumping out of my chest as I begin to think about what is occurring. I am singing for the first time in front of many of my family members and there is a feeling of needing to prove myself. My feet go cold and my palms begin to sweat. But then I remember…


I have nothing to prove to anyone, the idea itself is a nonsense and born out of ego. The only thing I have to do is what I love to do, sing. I am singing to celebrate a life and I as I stand beside the coffin adorned by the Arsenal flag and a beautiful picture of the man that has been and impacted all of our lives, I feel this great honour.


The voice comes and with it the realization that I am not singing “for” my family but “with” them, with all the people in the church. I sing and they meet me in that place from where all songs come. We move as one body and we let our collective grief move with the music. The words ‘Be Not Afraid’ spoken to every one of us from somewhere that knows. Somewhere that understands death fully and will guide us all through it when our time comes.


My song comes to an end and I look at my broken cousin and in that moment she looks a little less broken and I see something in her eyes that tells me she will be okay. She will get over this awful loss. We will all get over this loss because that is what we do. That is the human spirit. We love and we lose and although it is excruciatingly painful, eventually we go on to love again.


We leave the church and head to the Irish wake, which will be a huge party. We are celebrating a life and this we do. There is drink and there is laughter, as stories are swapped much to the astonishment of the Portuguese, who have a different way of mourning their loved ones. But today although we are in Portugal, we are behaving like the Irish.


And then just before we all finish up and go home, there is a sing – song and once again I sing with my family. We sing together and as we sing the family bond is forged, the one which seems to remain no matter how much time and distance is put in its way.


Tomorrow, we will leave and head away in different directions, back to our own lives but somehow we will all have a little of the other inside of us and we will carry the memory of this wonderful celebration.


It is the stuff that will get us through and keep us alive and connected no matter what. It feels a lot like love and I am reminded of Rumi’s words:


“Love is the whole thing.

We are only pieces.”

The day after the funeral, as I sit on the plane making its way back to London, I feel closer than ever to the pieces of my family. It warms my aching heart.



Start Your Go Creative! Week. Exercise 12: Old Age

Why not make this week a creative one and try our task?

Meeting Old Age

IMG_0297Society has a lot of rules around “old age” and what it means. The term “old age pensioner” brings to mind a whole multitude of images around what it means to be old in this world. Continue Reading →

Carnival, A Reason To Celebrate Life by Kira Kenley

31 Kira Kenley shares her creative dilemmas and decisions every Friday. You can read her earlier posts here


On The Road With My Pan Sister Jaki

Carnival is just about upon us and I prepare with Miguel for what will be a busy but fun weekend. There is much work to do to get the show on the road and in addition there are social events to attend. This carnival is as much about socializing as music making. I am getting closer to the West Indies tradition and falling deeper in love with this colourful culture.

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Start Your Go Creative! Week. Exercise 11: Carnival

Why not make this week a creative one and try our task?


Start Your Go Creative! Week

This weekend means Carnival if you are anywhere near Notting Hill, in London.

To give everyone a chance to get into a carnival humour the usual Monday post is being posted a few days earlier…

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Just The Two Of Us by Kira Kenley

30 Kira Kenley shares her creative dilemmas and decisions every Friday. You can read her earlier posts here

Just The Two Of Us

Funds are low low low in the Kira Kenley bank. This is the least money I have had since I was a student and I am scared. Truly scared.

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Start Your Go Creative! Week. Exercise 10: Soul Food

Why not make this week a creative one and try our task?

Soul Food

Go Creative! Food

 Food glorious food!

The food we eat, and how and where we eat it is such a big part of the society in which we live.

Restaurants line our streets and when at home there are thousands of books written offering a multitude of recipes to bring our own cooked “meals” to life.

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The Energy Trap by Kira Kenley

29 Kira Kenley shares her creative dilemmas and decisions every Friday. You can read her earlier posts here

First there was energy. Then there was mankind. Then there were problems…

The Energy Trap

Energy – Coexisting – Ever Moving – No Problem!

The universe is constructed of positive and negative energies, which happily go about their business and get done what needs to be done effortlessly and without making problems for each other. Positive energy recognizes negative and sits comfortably in its positioning. It meets positive energy and sits at ease with that too. Negative energies find each other in much the same way and coexist. No problem!

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Start Your Go Creative! Week. Exercise 9: Money Money Money

Why not make this week a creative one and try our task?

If I were a rich man…

IMG_0296Money! Money! Money!

This man-made energy is necessary to live in the modern world and is instrumental in ensuring we are nurtured ie. our fundamental needs, those of food, clothing and shelter, are met.

Apart from that, money is not important yet so often it is made responsible for a great many things in a person’s life; “if I had more money I would be happy” or “if I were rich I would be free”. Continue Reading →

Happy Anniversary by Kira Kenley

28 Kira Kenley shares her creative dilemmas and decisions every Friday. You can read her earlier posts here


Tito The Wonder Cat!

It is a year since I gave up my ‘day-job’. My security. My profession of twenty years. A year of firsts, many of which I have discussed in this blog. This week I thought I would take stock and ponder what exactly this year has meant. Birthdays and New Year celebrations are usually a time to reflect and today feels like another such time.

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Start Your Go Creative! Week. Exercise 8: Mindful Walking

Why not make this week a creative one and try our task?

Take a mindful walk

IMG_0290Walking is a great form of exercise. It gets the heart beating so that we breathe deeply and oxygenate our moving bodies.  Just 20 minutes of walking can alleviate stress and quiet an agitated mind.

And mindful walking can deepen that experience

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