The Washington Post

Memorial Music

The_Mamas_and_the_Papas_Ed_Sullivan_Show_1968

My partner, Jaime, lost her dad on Holy Thursday. Her family lives in Los Angeles, and I’m writing this riding down the Pacific Coast Highway so we can put his ashes in the ocean at the beach they’d camp at when she was little.

There’s been a lot of music around us this week. A lot of singing — in prayer, in the car, in mourning and in celebration.

David Lopez was a pastor. Jaime’s that son of a preacher man to me. So, Dusty Springfield’s been turned up loud as we drive. It’s catharsis, lifting our voices together. At the service, people her dad loved and helped over the years gathered to thank him. Everyone sang “Amazing Grace” and ’70s funk band Rare Earth’s “I Just Want to Celebrate.”

The Mamas and the Papas, above, have seemed right for long trips to pick up family in the mountains: “While I’m far away from you, my baby/ Whisper a little prayer for me, my baby,” from 1967’s “Dedicated to the One I Love.” Roy Ayers’ 1976 groove “Everybody Loves the Sunshine,” fits, too: “My life, my life, my life/ Just bees and things and flowers.”

California dreamin’: The sun shines here even in sadness.

Shauna Miller is managing editor at the Atlantic's CityLab. You can hit her up on Her.

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