This I Believe

Michelle - Columbus, Indiana
Entered on April 26, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: death
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I believe in music’s ability to heal.

The death of my father was a shock. The days following his death are hazy to me as I struggled to grasp the finality of this news. What bothered me most was my inability to describe my father accurately to friends when they would ask me about him. I just couldn’t seem to come up with the words. I wanted them to see him as I saw him and to miss him like I miss him. I understand now that music best describes my father.

One of my father’s great passions was classical music. Everyone who knew Dad knew this about him. My father was not one who readily expressed himself with words. As I look back now, I realize that he expressed himself through this love of music. Growing up, classical music was always playing in our home. I can remember my little brother being rocked to selections from Mozart’s “Requiem Mass”. When Dad couldn’t sleep, he would play Berlioz’s “Te Deum”. Listening to it now, I’m not sure why he found that soothing. I can clearly remember waking up in the middle of the night, hearing it playing on the stereo. It would be days before I could get it out of my head. I can still sense Dad’s excitement when he took us to see Fantasia playing at the theater. My siblings and I came home and Dad played Ponchielli’s “Dance of the Hours” while we imitated the hilarious alligator and hippo ballet scenes. We ended up rolling on the floor, laughing out of control. Dad introduced me to Pachelbel’s Canon years before light bulb commercials and the movie “Ordinary People” made it popular and overplayed. I can remember having a bad day at school and he would go over to his stereo and put it on, without saying a word. Years went by and our relationship became strained at times. But through it all, music was the continuum. As an adult, I started studying piano again, trying to pick up where I left off. Knowing Mozart was his favorite composer, I excitedly called him when I started working on some of Mozart’s piano sonatas. Dad encouraged me to listen to Mitsuko Uchida, saying he thought her interpretation was by far the finest he had heard.

I know now that I will always struggle with my father’s death. It will not be something that completely heals. But I have music to listen to that he loved. I have always listened to classical music but it has now become part of my healing process. And when I am feeling brave, I listen to Mozart’s Piano Sonatas. The Andante from No. 15 in C major moves me to tears every time.