I have a secret to share with you- a pretty cool one. I played a recital last night, a chamber recital of wonderful music with great musicians to an enthusiastic crowd. I felt confident on stage and had such a good time performing. The secret? I have my own band of angels on stage with me every time I play- I am never alone. There is no need for me to fear anything, because they are all standing around me, smiling and whispering words of encouragement, keeping me calm and focused.
The first time I thought about calling on them was days after my oldest brother, Bud, died of a heart attack. I chose to go ahead and play my long-scheduled faculty recital, knowing my music-loving brother would want me to go on and keep my commitment. It was the hardest performance I ever did, my heart aching with the loss of my sweet and gentle brother. I dedicated the performance to him, and left the next morning to go be with my mother and sister-in-law. I remember the moment so clearly…I was playing Aaron Copeland’s Concerto for Clarinet, singing my heart out through my instrument, when suddenly I felt my brother with me. I could feel him standing next to me with his arm around me, smiling and looking on at the music as I played. I think he even cracked one of his corny jokes. I felt such peace.
Since then, I have lost several people who were very dear to me, and have added them to my band of angels. I see Dan’s mother sitting in the audience where she always cheered me on, opera glasses in hand to see me from the balcony. I hear Dan’s father, a professional musician himself, shouting “Brava!” loudly when I finish playing. My aunts and uncles are there, as is my special cousin, Sissy, who helped to pay for my first lessons. The leader of my band of angels is the newest member in Heaven, but she rose in the ranks pretty quickly. She was always my biggest fan, believing in me when I didn’t believe in myself. She was at every band booster meeting, at every concert, every recital. She traded a beautiful antique necklace to get my very first clarinet when I was in the seventh grade. She told me to follow my dream and be whatever I wanted to be in life. My sweet Heavy D.
With all of that star power on stage and in life with me, what is there to worry about? And the best part? I can call on them anytime I need a bit of support, anytime I feel alone and need a helping hand. Each of them left a hole in my heart when they died…at least that’s how I used to think about it. Now I know they actually became a part of my heart, imbuing it with all of their love. I like thinking of my heart as a colorful patchwork quilt, made up of all the people who loved me, showed kindness to me, and helped me along the way. They never really leave us, you know…they are there for us to call on whenever we need them. We are never truly alone..what a beautiful thing.