The gentle picking of guitar comes from the other room. I stop to listen hearing the music rising and falling in emotional unison with the patterning of notes. He is a musician, this friend who has become so important in my life. I have always heard it in his songs but there is something about those notes in that moment that seals the words in me.
When we met, it was the musician in me, the writer in me, the artist in me that he drew to the attention of our relationship. The words of a poem I wrote expressed for him the longings of his own heart. When we sang and played piano together, it was my voice he thought held the music. My talent was worth being supported and acknowledged. He looked past my feelings of inadequacy and saw what I could be and through that seeing, I began to express so much that had been hidden within.
Even then, he shared with me his songs, gentle tunes of living. His father, his journeys rode on the streams of piano chords gently played. He encouraged me, he pushed me to make music to which he sang along. My fingers and voice regained their strength. Those dreams I had for my life began to resurface and his encouraging friendship helped me to reach beyond my limits and return to teaching. Opening what was inside me I gained the place of inspiring music and creativity in children. The strains of my life became fuller, richer vibrations with my soul.
It was a music that fell into confusion when his journey took him to work in another town leaving an opening for the voices within that doubted my worth, my ability to believe I could matter in the life of another. Even the faith inside me when it broke to the surface came out twisted by the memories of the past. My life became a solo of searching to heal the hurt that leaked from my spirit. Yet quietly his music played in counter melody to my scattered longings, a steadying in the noises of my life.
The musical climax rose to crescendo in moments of loss for each of us. My loss took me on a journey far from the place I was now living to the home I had been distant from for so long. My father was dying. The notes of my life tumbled and fell upon the keys of living, quieting for moments of sharing the person who he had been, rising again in the devil’s chord of dementia’s ramblings in these final days of saying goodbye. My friend’s loss came in physical health as he faced the failing of his own heart. In those moments the music broke through into the song it would become – a sharing that crossed the miles while each of us quietly played our melodies of living in the places we called home.
He is a musician, this friend who has become so important in my life. He hears the music, his mind, hands and heart working to build the skills and knowledge to let it sing out more fully on guitar, accordion and in his voice. He is becoming on the outside what he has always been quietly within.