My grandson Wilson is currently in the fifth grade and, as is evidently customary for his school, a program was held on September 11th memorializing the events of that day in 2001. And, as a part of that program, the school chorus (of which Wilson is a member) performed for the parents and others who were in attendance. And, as a part of that program, Wilson sang one verse of one of the songs . . . by himself . . . as in a solo . . . in front of a microphone and what appeared to be a bazillion people. I’m probably a tad bit biased (ok . . . a lot biased), but I thought he did a fantastic job. Even the critic in me agreed with the assessment. His voice wasn’t shaky or nervous, his pitch was perfect . . . he didn’t forget the words (which is a GIANT plus in my book). Everything about his performance was glorious.
I’m not telling you all of that to brag—although in re-reading the first paragraph I can see how you might think that’s where I was headed. It’s just that Wilson’s performance was a poignant reminder of so many things that had nothing to do with September 11th.
Using the magic of technology and the world wide interweb, his mother filmed his part of the song and then posted said video to Facebook so those of us unable to attend could see and hear him sing his heart out. And as I watched it I thought about how proud my father would have been. Dad loved music and he loved to sing. He even sang the last song at his own funeral. Need a bass? He was your man. Need a tenor or an alto? Just call him. Need someone to carry the lead? Bob to the rescue. He could sing any part and do it beautifully. So yes, he would have been proud of Wilson—and I said so in the comments after watching the video multiple times.
Everyone knows how it feels when your emotions threaten to mutiny and overthrow your self-control. Your throat tightens and your heart starts pounding as your face begins to flush. And the tears. Don’t forget the tears you struggle to keep at bay—and for me . . . well, let’s just say I could lead Santa’s sleigh through the darkest night imaginable. My nose can give Rudolph’s a run for its money when I’m emotionally overwhelmed—and that’s how I was as I typed “Your Dee Bob would have been so proud”. Because I knew he would. Just as he would be proud of Anderson and Cora and now Malcolm. He would have been in the floor playing with them and sharing his words of wisdom, and there would have been that twinkle in his eyes as he watched them scamper about or as they related all the fascinating observations that only a child can make. He would have loved them beyond words. But he will never know them—and in my mind, an even sadder state of affairs—they will never know him.
As I sit here and think about the things in life we miss the most when those we love go missing, I know it isn’t the actual things we miss. It’s the moments. When we lose the ones we love we get to keep the past through our memories and the tangible items they leave behind. But the present . . . and the future? Those will never exist with them. There will always be moments . . . moments when we wish they were here so we could experience something together . . . so we could make more memories. But for them—and with them—there will be no more memories made, only recalled. And the generations who follow in their footsteps—the Wilsons and Andersons and Coras and Malcolms of the world—will never know how much they lost by never having known them. Only those of us privileged enough to have experienced both will understand.