Sunday afternoon, at the close of a big open house we hosted. Scores of folks — teens and adults in nearly equal measure — have dropped by to welcome the new year, and wish my daughter Claire well as she heads off to the Kirov Academy of Ballet to pursue her dream. The party is winding down, with only a few of Claire’s dearest friends remaining. She’s saying goodbye to one such friend while the parents watch, one set already in heavy coats hovering by the door, and my wife and I at the top of the stairs by the landing. I’ve been streaming cello music the entire afternoon — thank goodness for Pandora — and at what is possibly the worst (or best?) time, a mournful air from a string quartet swells from the speakers. It’s as though scene has suddenly been scored, and for a few moments we are all frozen there — our emotions amplified by the music in a way that it sometimes seems only music can do. The girls are holding one another and crying. It is nearly unbearably sad.
It’s not so much about loss, I don’t think. After all, they are standing here together, and as most hyper-connected teens do, they are sure to be in touch — perhaps even more than they are now.
But yet it is about loss in some way, for surely they understand that they will lose their relationship as they know it. From this moment forward, things will begin to change, and their lives — while still no doubt connected — will be on decidedly different paths.
Later, as I’m running through all the things I still need to do with Claire, I imagine that I can maybe get to some of them next week, and then a moment later I am struck dumb by the sudden notion that next week she will not be here. She will be living hundreds and hundreds of miles away from my outstretched arms, from my face-to-face counsel. She will be taking the first steps on her own path, a path that her mother and I can guide or alter perhaps, but a path that will also be decidedly different.
Thank goodness there was no cello music at that moment. I don’t think I could have managed it.
As always, I am grateful to all of you who have asked after her and wished her well. And, as always, if you’d like to send Claire a note of encouragement or make a gift to her scholarship fund, you can do so at One Dancer’s Dream, P.O. Box 11141, Blacksburg, VA 24062