These past few days have been filled with thoughts of Esme. Last weekend my son Jack and I went up to Detroit with a group of fellow musicians to compete in the North American Midwest Regional Fleadh Cheoil. (and Irish Music Competition) Unlike Jack, I was only there to compete in one small thing, and yet I was terrified. I am not one who enjoys being on stage, let alone being judged. But I go and participate because I like what leads up to it; the rehearsals and figuring out as a group what exactly we will play. That part of it is fun. The going on stage part is not. Most of Jack’s schoolmates seem to take being on stage in stride and show no signs of stage fright or pre-show nerves. This was not true for Esme. Cut of the same stage-going cloth as I, she was always a bundle of nerves before a show, and a puddle of relief afterwards. And yet she always performed just fine. She’d get up there and do what needed to be done. I thought of her a lot in the hours leading up to our little band competition and once up on stage, I took a deep breath, and did what I had to do. It went fine. We did our best, and I was happy I had made the effort. We got 3rd out of 3, alas, but we got rave reviews from the crowd! As a side note, my Jack won the mandolin and banjo competitions, but his best showing was in Fiddle. A third place out of a huge field of talented kids. He was thrilled!
Upon returning home from the Fleadh, we hit the ground running this week with concerts and graduation. Esme was ever present at all of these events. Many of them were her events where she should have been playing. She was missed sorely by those of us in the audience, her classmates, and of course, her family. In the midst of it all I have been embroidering a small quilt square that will go to my favorite local fabric store, St. Theresa’s Textile Trove, where it will join many others like it in a quilt for Esme’s family. It is a huge labor of love and I can’t wait to see the finished product! I am proud to be just a small part of it. My square is called Esme Early Bird. She was always the first one up at our house when she visited.
At SCPA’s graduation performance, Esme’s spirit was with us all as we held a beautiful moment of silence before the ceremony, and quotes from her blog graced the speeches of some of the Seniors. Tears have been close to the surface for me and even though I just got back from Detroit, I am hitting the road again tomorrow for Rochester to see Kristin before her baby arrives. It will be wonderful to see her and spend some pre-baby time with her, but it will also be great to get a few hours of solitude in the car to gather my thoughts about things, maybe have a good cry, and simply be alone. I am happy to know the need for balance and to seek it, without too much drama.
Kim’s song Days Like This was on a popular television show last night and so has been rolling around in my head. The lyrics have a bit that goes “days like this, yeah, you think about the ones that went before you.” I do think about them. Knowing the people I have lost in recent years, only makes loving the ones still with me that much more poignant. I am really missing lost loved ones, especially most recently Esme and my dear friend Mia. But I am grateful for the gifts they continue to give in spirit.