I have written before about the piano I had growing up. At a Thanksgiving dinner in my early childhood at the home of my great grandparents, my great grandfather taught me to play one note at a time. And in this way, he stopped me from mashing my tiny palms against the keyboard while also teaching me my first song, “Do Re Mi” from The Sound of Music. It was many years later, upon the occasion of his death that our family received the amazing gift of that same piano where I learned, “Let’s start at the very beginning….”
Some years ago, when my parents moved to be closer to their own grandkids, there wasn’t room for the piano to make the journey. But the purchaser of my parents’ home was the daughter of a local pastor and she promised the piano would get plenty of use at church gatherings in their home. This brought me joy, though parting with that piano was one of the hardest afternoons of my adult life. I called a friend in tears, and he said, “What a blessing you have something you care so much for in your life. I don’t think I have anything like that in my own life.”
And his words ring louder than a note on that old Wheelock baby grand today. So much of what we are losing, what we are missing, is becoming more and more dear to us in many ways. I think many of us noticed at first the new ways we were connecting, but in reflection, many of us are now feeling what might be missing in our lives as well. It’s totally natural. I still miss my piano, even though I know it has found a loving home.
Yesterday I got a call from my great aunt who found her vocation and calling as a Sister of St. Joseph, a Catholic order of women religious, at a young age. We were checking in on each other and she remembered how I played the piano at the 50th anniversary of her called vocation as a nun. She shared how she practiced the piano so much growing up but never got to the level she hoped. She told me the story of expressing this regret to her dad, who said, “Admitting you’re wrong is admirable, but don’t waste a second regretting your mistake.”
There is so much we are letting go of, friends. And I wonder about the regrets we have about how things might have gone differently, and whether we might also let go of these in these times. As we spoke, my great aunt and I, it dawned on us: we are talking about learning the piano…on the same piano. The piano I received as a gift was the one in her living room growing up. We laughed at the connection and I thought of the advice the same man offered us both: “One note at a time” and “Don’t waste a second on regret.” So, my friends, I offer a thought, a prayer, if you will, from my family to yours: take it easy and feel what it might be like to let some more things go.
And may it ever be so.
With love and aloha,
Rev. T. J.