Most days in my household are a juggle as it is.
Today was like juggling and eating the apples you’re juggling and painting a mural on the wall at the same time.
It’s ratings in TV Land, which means work is usually a juggle of things. I’m not swamped, I have to admit, like I was years ago and managing an entire unit. Unfortunately for my bosses that falls on their shoulders now and I’m happy to say I’m glad to let them handle it.
But my juggle involved the morning routine, getting everything ready and reminding my oldest that Sam, my youngest, needed to be at St. Francis High School by 5:30pm for a choir festival his choir was singing at. That, in turn, required her to juggle her schedule, as she’d forgotten his festival. That also required Hannah, my middle, to watch Sam’s twin brother, Noah, at home since he’s not in the choir and the festival was sold out except for two seats.
Neither my oldest, Abbi, nor I must have thought much about what going to St. Francis High School would do. For me, it was about Sam. Noah tends to dominate the attention a lot of the time and this – singing – was something Sam desperately wanted to do again. After Andrea, my wife, passed away in 2011, none of the kids wanted to do much of anything and we were so swamped with emotions and trying to get into a routine that it wasn’t really possible anyway. But this school year he wanted back in the choir, so I let him.
When I got to the school, Sam had already joined the congregation of kids backstage. Abbi had been waiting awhile, and the show wouldn’t start for an hour and a half. We decided to go get a cup of coffee while we waited. Along the way, I got a description of how everyone at the school recognized or did double-takes upon seeing her. She talked about how sad she was to leave St. Francis and how difficult it was to be back there.
I told her she could go home, but she wanted to see Sam sing.
I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t feel awful for putting her through all this. Understand, though, that after Andrea passed away, our income drained. Andrea was a pharmacist, made a really good living. That enabled us to put Abbi in that private school. We barely got her through the year and it was only through the help of others and some unclaimed scholarship money at St. Francis that we got her tuition paid up to finish her sophomore year. By junior year it was abundantly clear there was no way to keep her there. I just couldn’t pull it off.
Abbi wasn’t trying to make me feel bad and I like that she talks with me about it. Reality is I couldn’t change how things went anyway and she knows that, just has to say it.
But then came Sam’s time.
The kids got up, after the St. Francis orchestra played, and sang a song that nearly brought both Abbi and I to tears. The kids were rehearsed, well-behaved, and they sang beautifully, on-key, and literally touching.
The high school also did a medley of Phantom of the Opera songs, which Sam’s choir helped sing on two numbers, and the kids got a standing ovation. It was at that moment that the past dissolved and both Abbi and I had no bad feelings about what was going on there. Sam, in his perfect-pitch little voice I heard ringing in the chorus, had pulled us into the present.
It’s amazing what a chorus of kids, touching your soul with music, will do to you.
Sam was smiling, happy, and got a little gift from the school’s Art Director at intermission. On the way out he chose to go home with Abbi, which I noticed made her smile . . . the little boy more perceptive than either of us, realizing he’d made his sister’s night.
Andrea would have loved it, and part of my sadness was knowing that she’d have grabbed my arm and gushed about how cute the whole thing was. But I didn’t need it. I knew it already, and it was amazing.
Amazing, because as much as you worry about dropping something when you juggle…Sure, Sam’s shirt was wrinkled, his shoes scuffed and his hair a bit messy, but nobody noticed that. He was a voice in a chorus. We juggled, and sometimes . . . .sometimes you pull it off, and the results are amazing.