Akemi’s early December e-mail started with “Yay.” When I read that she made the first violin section of NEC’s top orchestra for its February 8th concert with the renowned conductor Hugh Wolff, I made my decision at that very moment. No matter how I felt, I was going to that concert.
One of my cardinal parenting rules has been “show up.” Even with only one child, a few times that has been easier said than done. Her second grade year, my flight home from a ULI meeting in Atlanta was delayed by lightening. The longer we sat on the runway, the more anxious I got that I would miss my Denver connection, meaning I would miss Akemi’s school open house that night. In heart-warming solidarity from another working mom, the flight attendant called ahead to the gate of my connecting flight, had me stand by the cabin door as soon as it was safe to do so, and said, “They’re trying to hold the flight for you, so as soon as we can open this door, RUN.” I did, and it seemed I had just sunk breathlessly into my seat as that plane started to taxi. When I caught up with Bing and Akemi at her school, she pressed my hand to her cheek and said with relief I will never forget, “Oh, Mommy, I knew you would make it.”
Open house was important to that second-grader, and making the best orchestra concert of her life was important to the hard-working young violinist. Fortunately, the change in my treatment schedule meant I did not have chemo as was originally on the calendar for this week. Even the weather gods were extraordinarily kind to me – no snow in Boston for early February.
Listening to the first half of the concert in NEC’s historically beautiful Jordan Hall, I realized that she had worked her entire life to be able to play in an orchestra such as this. She corrected me: she has worked her entire life to be able to play in an orchestra with a conductor of Hugh Wolff’s caliber. Moments in their Mozart “Haffner” symphony and Beethoven fourth piano concerto were breath-taking, and their Shostakovich first symphony was simply dazzling. The concert was over all too quickly. It was great of Sarah, Jonny, and Kismet – a wonderful subset of her best friends – to make it, as well.
All too soon I was leaving her apartment to return to LA early yesterday morning. In her sleepy dawn, she thanked me again for coming. Truthfully, I went as much for myself as for her. We shared this achievement, her and I, as we have shared, what, 17 years of lessons, rehearsals, performances, decisions, a few disappointments, and many exhilarations. And having her know that she can count on me to be there for the events important to her, be it the second grade open house or an NEC Philharmonia concert, is a gratifying parental accomplishment unto itself.
Folks were roundly concerned that wouldn’t this trip be too tiring, but all the more, I wouldn’t have missed this concert. This was most definitely a memorable “yay,” and Waldenstrom’s be-you-can-guess, I am counting on making more concerts and recitals before she is done at NEC.