And so, another adventure begins. I am high in the air, skating across puffy white clouds, flying to Orlando for the International Clarinet Association's ClarinetFest; a week filled with what I know will be inspiration…and what I hope will be successes. My best friend is a few rows ahead of me- we didn't know we had the same connecting flight, but were thrilled when we realized it. How grateful I am to get to spend this week with my friend of over thirty years, my sister-from-another-mother. Such a gift.
I am heading into this week of being in the professional spotlight limping to the finish line, my battery low. My heart is heavy and my mind still foggy from these past weeks of heartache and loss. I have felt scattered and unable to focus, but I did the best I could to be ready in the midst of everything. I wonder if I will be able to rise to the occasion? To perform at my best? Present a lecture on my teacher's pedagogy in a clear and engaging way? Will I be able to do a good job in my role as Secretary of the Board in meetings and ceremonies?
Tears remain close to the surface, and I am forgetful and anxious. I have what I know is an irrational fear of leaving our remaining dog Sophie, especially knowing Dan's busy schedule at the theater. She has been glued to my side since Cooper's death three weeks ago, and she began acting very strangely when she saw me packing the big red suitcase. I'm sure I'm projecting my own anxiety about leaving the healing powers of our home, but after losing two cherished pets in such a short time span, I have to admit I'm a bit spooked.
When I was packing up my clarinets after practicing last night and gathering my things, I decided that I needed some special talismans to remind me that my angels are always with me, that their love can give me strength when I don't seem to have the muster myself to call it into action. I knew what I wanted; the single white button that I found in the center of the floor of my button-loving mother's apartment after she died, the apartment that I had already cleaned to the nth degree. I also wanted to use Cooper's puppy tag, unearthed in my garden months ago from where the little rascal obviously gave it the slip. I pinned them both into my clarinet case to make me smile each time I open the case. I am not alone.
I am working hard on my 'act your way into a new way of thinking' mindset that has served me well before. It's time to put my many years of training and preparation to good use. Sometimes we don't feel up to a looming challenge, but – at least in this case- the show truly must go on. I will give it my best, dedicating my performances and presentation to the memory of Kasey and Cooper, our friend John, and as always- to my mother. Ready or not, Orlando, I am here. I can do this.