My wife, Marty, after a four+ year downward spiral with cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, passed last March. But, for me, her passing was never complete as long as her piano remained at home. Recently, her piano found a new home and the way it all played out was truly a beautiful thing. I thought I should share it here.
“To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.” St. Thomas Aquinas
Marty passed away this past March and her piano remained behind. It was part of her, an extension if you will, for no matter how much of her memory disappeared, every day she would still manage to play that piano. The last few months of her life she probably sat playing it two to three hours a day. It followed that after she was gone the piano stayed right where it had always been, the only difference being the silence resonating from it.
The presence of her piano had extended the grief process for me. When you came in my front door it was right there, waiting to be brought to life. It was silent but when I looked at it I could see Marty sitting there playing. At times I could even hear the music. When I did it was so clear and vivid that at times I just had to leave the house. I even thought I was “losing” it.
After several weeks I covered the piano up with a large blanket. I placed a few knickknacks on top and did my best to ignore it. The camouflage worked just a tiny bit but it was better than nothing. What to do? What to do? Here is where my faith comes in. Here is where I opened myself up and “let go and let God.”
I thought of selling the piano, but that thought evaporated quickly. There was no way I could “sell” Marty’s piano. I wanted it to go to someone who could not afford one and who would be able to play. So I contacted my parish and after two or three weeks of “no response” I forgot about it. So I just kept praying and waited.
Hospice had a bereavement group that had begun on May 10. I decided to attend. We met once a week for six weeks. I had discussed the piano with them. When we had finished our meetings, the three of us who were left exchanged our email addresses and phone numbers. On July 27, I received a Facebook message from Sue, who was part of the bereavement group. She wrote that the music director at the Anona Methodist Church (who was also a piano teacher) might know a family that could use a piano.
I phoned the music director. Her name was Sandy and she told me that she knew a lady named Sarah, who had a seven-year-old boy who was learning to play. They only had a keyboard as the family could not afford a piano. It was a perfect scenario. I asked Sandy if she would have Sarah call me, and the next day she did. She was thrilled at the opportunity to get this piano for her son. And herein is when I fully understood how God was in charge of this entire piano saga.
Marty began playing a piano at the age of six or seven. 70 years later, Sarah’s son has begun playing at the age of six or seven. I thought about it and realized that it is possible that maybe 70 years from now, an older man might be playing a piano somewhere. He would have learned to play on the same piano that a woman named Marty played her last song on 70 years earlier. In essence, the music coming from that piano had never stopped and now spanned four generations. And yes, the possibility exists that it may continue well after he is gone. Who knows, right?
I have absolutely no doubt that this was “meant to be” and here is why; the piano was picked up and delivered to its new owner on August 10. That is the Feast Day (and this only happens once a year) of St. Lawrence, who is my patron Saint (talk about messaging). Having Faith (as quoted by Aquinas above) is a beautiful thing. My prayers were, without a doubt, answered.
One final thought; I can see Marty looking down with that great big smile of hers stretched from ear to ear. She is watching as a little boy sits at her piano and fingers the very keys she had fingered only six months earlier. And, as is God’s way of things, life goes on. On occasion, so does His music.
*Another version of this appeared in Aleteia on August 11, 2017
© Larry Peterson 2017