.... that still brings huge waves of pain and grief to me, even after almost three years, is also one of the most beautiful things in our home.
It is my piano.
It's not our original piano .... it's mine.
Jim bought me a piano a few years after we were married. He knew how very much I wanted one and so we saved up for a while and he bought me a nice, older piano.
I loved it from day one.
I played it all of the time.
When we had our first child, she started playing it when she was three.
And then the other children came, each taking lessons (for at least a little while).
Before we had our 4th child I started teaching piano .... in our home, on that piano.
Then we moved to Texas and I decided to stop teaching. It took too much time away from the kids, especially in the afternoons, when our oldest was just getting home from school. It was a good decision, especially since the four kids we then had were followed by numbers five and six!
As the kids grew and became more involved in activities I played the piano less and less (though they played it more and more).
I never enjoyed playing in front of people .... ever.
I loved teaching, but if someone asked me to play something or accompany someone, my heart raced uncontrollably and my stomach felt like it would lurch. Even the thought of playing in front of someone makes my heart beat faster (as it is now, just writing about it).
But there was one person I could play for .... at night, after the kids had gone to bed.
I couldn't play for him directly.
He wouldn't be in the same room, but he could be in the room next to me.
Yes, I know it's odd, but it's just the way it was.
He loved my playing.
And I loved playing music that I know touched him deeply.
He loved Pachelbel's "Canon" .... he first heard it in the movie "Ordinary People".
I played it often.
He also loved anything from "Les Miserables", but especially the song "Bring Him Home", which would sometimes make him cry.
We both shared a love of that musical and many other Broadway musicals.
So I played songs from "Les Mis" .... a lot.
After Jim died I didn't touch that piano for over a year.
I just physically couldn't.
I couldn't even look at it.
The thought of playing it brought waves of grief and pain that are difficult to describe or rationalize.
I just ..... couldn't.
So after a year, I decided that maybe if I got a new piano, I'd be able to play again.
Because it would be different.
It would be my piano.
Not the one we shared.
We had talked about getting a used baby grand for a while.
And so one day I found a great deal on one (you know the kind, only owned by one owner .... a little old lady who only played it on Sundays). :)
I was excited to get this piano.
It was so beautiful .... and so different from "ours".
The day the new/used piano was delivered, I pushed "our" piano into the dining room, where it sat for months until I could have it moved to a small house we have on a lake.
We moved the furniture around and made room for the new arrival.
The new/used piano was now the centerpiece of my living room.
It was .... and still is .... an amazing musical instrument.
But .... I was wrong.
The new piano, which I thought I could play and play and play .... mostly sits as just a beautiful centerpiece in my living room.
I have not been able to play for more than five minutes on it.
Believe me .... I've tried.
The last time I tried was this past weekend.
No one was home .... the house was very quiet.
I walked through the living room, on my way to my bedroom, and the piano caught my eye.
I stopped .... and thought, "Maybe today I'll be able to play it."
And so I sat at the bench, got out my sheet music .... and began to stumble through a piece.
In less than 2 minutes I was crying so hard that I couldn't read the music.
I kept playing, though, thinking that I just needed to get through it .... maybe if I played until the end, it would somehow break this "grief curse" I seem to have.
I wiped my eyes and kept playing.
And kept crying.
Until the very end.
And then I closed my sheet music, shut the keyboard cover .... and walked away.
I was wrong.
It wasn't the piano.
It was the music.
It was us.
It was him.
It was love.
And now, there is no us.
There is no him.
Yes, there is still love .... in an odd, one-sided sort of way.
But I cannot play the music.
No one seems to understand that.
No one except someone else who walks on this path with me.
Yes, it's strange and yes, maybe I should look into why I can't play yet.
But .... I think .... it is what it is.
And it will be what it is for as long as it takes.
And until that day comes, if it ever comes, that beautiful piano that sits in my living room will continue to be ...... the One Thing......