We rarely get the opportunity to be truly present in a moment we know will impact our children’s lives. Those moments are usually best appreciated in hindsight…they stand out to us because of what happened afterwards. But last night, I got to witness something pretty amazing. My eleven year old daughter had her very first violin recital, and that alone would have been cause for celebration. That she played a half hour after having her finger slammed in a car door… well, I’ve never seen anything like the kind of determination she had. It was a remarkable thing to see, and when I grow up, I want to be just like her.
We had our hands full as we left the van in a too-tight parking space. As we balanced unwieldy loads of violin cases, cookies, platters, and sheet music, I could see it happening but was too late to stop it. We raced inside for ice and band-aids and though I had the sinking feeling that her finger may be broken, I certainly did not use the ‘b’ word. She turned her face away from the crowd that streamed in and I reminded her to just breathe. She did not want to look at the wound, and so we just kept icing and breathing, icing and breathing. Eventually, she was ready to go upstairs, but she was unsettled to be sure. In the back of the Chapel, I gave her the choice to play or not, and assured her that either would be perfectly fine. Around that time, her grandparents arrived with flowers and Maura did not want them to see her crying. Her Grampy made her laugh. She asked for her bow, to see if she could hold it comfortably. By then, I was ready to tell her teacher that it wasn’t going to happen…
Maura held the bow and said, “I think I can do it.”
Part of me wanted to tell her no, that it might be too hard. I didn’t want to see her try and then have to stop. That might have been too much for anyone to endure, let alone a little girl. But once she made the decision, I wanted to support her in it. She looked for Holy water there in the back of the Church but, finding none, she accepted my blessing. And so, we went in.
Because we spent time on her injured finger, Maura’s sheet music was not organized and so as we went through the short program, she often frantically searched and discovered the appropriate piece just in time. I was so anxious watching her, and yet when she started playing, I was in awe. Little bandaged pinky finger balancing that bow… resolute expression on her face and the best version of ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ I’ve ever heard.
She embodied the lesson I didn’t learn until I was maybe twenty-seven years old. That when faced with something really difficult, the best way is often not around, but through.
Tim brought her right home afterward for Tylenol and a closer inspection. He put on a splint and my parents brought her an ice cream cake that said, ‘Maura Rocks’. (She does!) Within a few minutes, she was showing her grandparents new moves from her Irish step class, laughing and joking. We took a picture of Maura and my parents with their pinkies up, as they are all tough cookies, enduring the pain of a bruised finger, chemo, and cancer, and still smiling. She rated her pain lower and lower as the evening went on, and before she went to bed she said she wished she’d played better. I told her to be kind to herself, and that she was the strongest person I’d ever met. This morning, she felt completely better and made sure we knew she wanted to pitch in tonight’s softball game. I am left shaking my head in wonder at all of the gifts we’ve been given, all of the lessons we learn.