Confession: I stink at goodbyes. Like, really really badly. Unfortunately next week I have to say farewell to a woman who has come to mean a lot to me and the idea of it honestly fills me with dread.
A little back story is in order. When my husband and I moved to our current home, it was way more of a whirlwind decision than buying a house and moving out of state should be. And for awhile after we moved here in November ’06, we weren’t happy. We loved our house but we disliked everything about this town. We were only an hour away from family and most friends but it felt so much further.
Autumn ’09, in particular, was a pretty bad time for me. Don’t get me wrong – things with my husband and kids were fine but I was miserable. We had been operating with just one car for over a year at that point so when my husband drove to work each day, I was literally STUCK at home with a little kid and an infant all day. Every day. I couldn’t even run to the grocery store if we ran out of milk. It took its toll on me and I remember sobbing to my husband that something had to change. I needed this huge void that had taken over to be filled.
Growing up, I attended church religiously (hahaha, see what I did there?) and I realized I really, really missed that. We tried getting involved in the Catholic church down the street but it just didn’t click. It wasn’t welcoming, there was no literature on how to get involved in stuff, nothing. After that experiment was a dud, I I told my born-and-raised Catholic husband that I wanted to try a Lutheran church. The very next Sunday, off we went.
Walking through the doors of that church in November ’09 turned out to be a life changing moment. From the second I walked in, we were welcomed warmly by everyone. The first time I heard the organ, I got chills up and down my spine. (Turns out it’s the 8th largest organ in the world.) The ushers assured us all through the service that our children were not, in fact, behaving like heathens. We went back again the following Sunday. Five days after that, I joined the choir.
Now, not many people who know me now know that for years, I had planned on majoring in music. For the longest time, music was my life. The stupidest decision I ever made was giving it all up after some drama with various band people my senior year. I regret that every day, even over *cough* 18 *cough* years later but joining choir was like… well, it was like being let out of a prison and into the sunlight for the first time in decades but what made it an even sweeter deal for me were the people who ran the choir.
I absolutely fell in love with them both.
The Minister of Music is a force. He is so ridiculously talented and funny and smart and he makes you want to be the best version of you that you can possibly manage to be. He is amazing with everyone, from 3 year olds to 103 year olds. He is one of the most amazing disciples of Christ I have ever known. And then there’s the Associate Minister of Music. She is quiet and unassuming even though she is not only the Associate Minister of Music but also an Associate in Ministry, a composer (and one of the most internationally respected hand bell composers ever), an organist, a pianist, a harpist… She has every right to be a pompous jerk about it but she is exactly the opposite of that. Put these two awesome people together and it’s just magic. It really is. They go together like chocolate and peanut butter.
It was she who first asked me to play the flute for a church service. Everything in me was screaming no because I hadn’t played in eons but I said yes. With her gentle guidance, she gave me the confidence to do it again. And again. And again. I’ve played for 25 people at the Saturday evening service and I’ve played for hundreds of people in the community singers concert. Me. I played with her for the last time just this past Saturday and I don’t know if she could tell but I could barely see the notes on the page through all the tears in my eyes. To be honest, I feel a little silly being so emotional over this – after all, I met her not even 5 years ago! I don’t really know how to explain it but in so many ways, this woman touched my soul and changed my life. She awakened the lost musician in me and gave me the confidence to perform again – not only instrumentally, but vocally too. She changed my life and I, very very very selfishly, am ridiculously sad I only got to be in her presence for 5 years.
So. KLB. If you ever read this, this is the goodbye I could never give you in person because I’d be a blubbering mess. (Like I am right now, but you can’t see me. Ha.) I cannot possibly even begin to thank you for everything you’ve done for me and brought back into my life. You are an amazing woman, a ridiculously talented musician, and I will miss you (and your eyes that literally twinkle when you laugh) more than I can ever say. Godspeed to you and happy retirement. May you receive the blessings that you’ve given to others tenfold.