Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Not Taken For Granted

How human nature it is to go through our days...assuming tomorrow will be pretty much like today. I do it. You might, too. It's human nature to.

But every so often, we are shaken from our routine. Events happen to remind us, often harshly, that what we took for granted yesterday is not in our world today.

Such an event happened to my daughter's and my world this morning.

Her band teacher passed away after being in a car accident on the way to work this morning.

He would have been 27 years old next week. He leaves behind a wife and a 1 year old daughter.

He also leaves behind an entire high school in mourning, students in disbelief that their much-loved teacher is never lifting his conductor's wand again to lead them through such beautiful music, parents trying to console their children at his loss, while wiping their own tears away, and a community who goes to bed tonight without one of its finest members.

Two summers ago I made the decision to buy my daughter a new clarinet for her high school band classes. I had no idea as to what to look for when purchasing such an expensive instrument. I emailed Mr. R... telling him of my plans and asking for any information he might suggest to help me make a purchase that would serve my daughter well. I will never forget his kindness and the email he sent back. He started out by saying such kind things about M... and how excited he was that I was doing this for her music would improve with such a purchase. He then gave me sooo much information ... models to look for, manufactures, reeds, materials that were good, and not-so-good. I printed his email out and took it with me as I shopped; using it as a guideline and checklist for what I needed to get.

I found the perfect clarinet for my daughter - all based on Mr. R's suggestions. When M first played her new instrument, she was almost in disbelief that she could make such a beautful sound from a clarinet...and she had a renewed passion and excitement for her talent! I emailed Mr. R to thank him so very much for his help in my purchase. I thanked him for his time. I thanked him for his support. I thanked him for being my daughter's teacher and for helping her strive for excellence and for nurturing a passion for music and performing in her. I thanked him.... sincerely ... and from my heart.

I am deeply saddened by Mr. R's passing. I will miss that man. Watching him conduct the band during their concerts was always entertaining. He was a slight man physically, but his passion and talent and love for his students and profession were never more evident than when he stepped up onto the conductor's podium... wand raised. He would lead those students through numbers that honestly, if you were to close your eyes and simply listen, you would think you were listening to a professional band playing... not 50 hormone-ridden, braced-teeth teenagers. Afterwards, as we applauded loudly with pride and joy in our hearts, he would humbly step down off the podium... wipe his sweaty brow, and extend his arm gracefully to his them all of the praise, accolades and applause that they so richly deserved.

My daughter saw him last night at a restaurant which was hosting a fund raiser for the band's trip to California in April. As always, Mr. R was giving of himself for the betterment of his students.

Eighteen hours later.... he was gone.

You know why I write this post tonight. You've heard it before. Call it a cliche'... but how true it is... to tell those close to you that you love them. To say 'thank you' to someone. To tell that person 'I'm sorry'... the one you've thought of saying that to, but just quite haven't. And perhaps I write to say that if your child has a teacher in their lives whom you appreciate.... tell them. If all you do is scribble a 'Thank you for all you do for my child.' on a scratch piece of paper... do it. While you have the chance.

Mr. R.... God's speed ... and may Heaven behold the most beautiful of music tonight.


Chickenbells said...

How very touching...I am so sorry for both of your loss in what sounded like an amazing teacher. I am sorry for the loss for the entire school that he will not grace the halls with his presence...and I am sorry for his small new family, that his children may not know their father the way you did...hugs to both of you in your grief.

Simplicity Wins said...

So sad and so well said. I will keep you all in my prayers as you go through this time of mourning.