I was sitting on stage in the middle of a recital this afternoon, performing with my best friend in our Amicitia Duo, when suddenly I felt a wave of emotion wash over me. How lucky am I to be sitting on this stage, performing with my best friend, playing music written in tribute to our friendship and to our mothers. In that instant, I was completely in the moment, and I did my best to hold on to it. As the notes passed by, I relished each of them. I felt our mothers on stage with us in spirit. I looked at Diane for a cue and winked at her, and she winked back. What a gift to have found my dharma, to know that I am doing what I love most in the world, making music and teaching. What a gift to have such a wonderful friendship, a true touchstone throughout my life.
Not every day will have these moments, but they happen enough to remind me to be aware of them and to keep the gratitude flowing. Life is throwing some, well, life, at me lately. Nothing earth shattering- so many people are dealing with much more serious and impactful things than I am- just things to process and move through. Right before I left to go on tour, I found our cat, Kasey, acting very strangely- almost as if she’d had a stroke. Even her meow sounded completely foreign. Dan took her to see our wonderful cat vet, ‘Dr. George’, and gave me the sad news: Kasey had gone into severe renal failure, even causing her to go almost completely blind. Thankfully, Dan got her there in time to be able to try some treatment before it was too late. For the forseeable future, we will give her an IV of fluids each day, along with medicines in her food morning and night. We are doing our best to keep her comfortable and loved, and will take her back to Dr. George next week to check on her progress. We will keep our eyes and our hearts open and will not let her suffer. She’s been with us for almost fourteen years, when she came to us as a feral cat, having given birth to five kittens in our dog house. She is a member of our family and we owe her the best care we can give her until the end.
Along with some other issues, I also found out while on tour that I definitely have to have a hysterectomy. Not the news I really wanted to hear- it’s tough to just stop life to have a procedure like that done. As I’m a clarinet player, the surgery will keep me off of my instrument for at least four weeks, so I’m looking carefully at my schedule to see when I am done with all playing commitments for the semester and planning for my students. I have to get this done and heal so that I’m ready for the next batch of important performances coming up this summer. While it’s not what I had hoped to be doing in April, I am grateful that my doctors caught the issue and that I have the insurance and wonderful care that will allow me to take care of the problem and get back on track. I’m also blessed to have a sweet and compassionate husband who will take good care of me, a best friend who will make me laugh (if you read an earlier blog post, Diane named my large tumor ‘George’), and a boss, colleagues, and students who will support me through the time I am not going to be able to work.
This is also a wake-up call to get back into my healthy routines and take off the holiday and stress weight that I have gained in the past months. I need to be at my best to handle the changes that will rock my body with the hysterectomy. I’ve got a plan in place, including working with a friend in my yoga class who is my fitness hero. She is ten years older than I and has been through shoulder surgery and back issues like I’ve had, and has bounced back beautifully after a hysterectomy. She is the picture of health and fitness, and has offered to train me. I’m hoping that this health speed bump is going to end up being the beginning of something great, propelling me into a healthier and stronger body as I continue to navigate my way through the interesting land of middle age.
Right now, Dan and I are having what we like to call ‘quiet time’- no television, no music, just the peace and solitude of togetherness. The gas fireplace is making it’s wonderfully peaceful ‘hissing’ sound in the dim room, and the dogs are sleeping at our feet. Diane is up in the guesthouse, having turned in early in preparation for her early flight back home to Nebraska in the morning. I miss her already. I’m sitting here in the quiet of our funky old house, our ‘Chez Gainey’, with memories swirling all around me. So much life. No matter what happens to me, I can never feel anything but grateful. I have been so fortunate in my life to have loved and been loved, to have had opportunities for education, for a career that I love and that gives me purpose. I have true friends and a loving and safe home. I have animals that I have “rescued”, but they always end up rescuing me, time and time again. I have hopes and dreams that I know I can make happen if I only work hard and believe. I am excited to see what the future holds.
I want to continue to remind myself to embrace the moment, no matter what that moment brings- to be truly present in my life for the good and the not-so-good stuff. Really, it’s all good in some way, even if that good part doesn’t become apparent for years. The good stuff is easy- we can all appreciate that. It’s the difficult stuff that brings out what we are really made of, that stretches us, makes us think and forces us to face growth. It’s also the stuff that makes us appreciate the simple things like sitting on a couch in front of a cozy fire next to someone who holds your heart with two old dogs snoring at your feet. I’m grateful for it all. All of it.