Friday, July 29, 2011

Inside the Piano Bench

Ila's piano sits in the basement.  I can

play by ear, but

reading music, I'm slow.

I sometimes forget
this is
here in the house
waiting for someone to make it work
like the jars in the canning room
the roses and iris
and garden bed.

Tonight, I lifted the piano bench and found Ila's music books there.  A Spring band program from 1971.  A note from a brother to a sister:  "You'll do fine."

And I think of Ila getting dressed to see her daughter's program 40 years ago, putting on her perfume (I've found the tiny, empty bottles), and after it was over, placing the program in the piano bench with his note of encouragement.  This is love still happening, one that hasn't stopped even though the lid of the bench has been shut for so many years.

In all these three or four years of living here, I hadn't thought to.  Look here.

There are things in the attic I've never seen.  I've never been up there because in my mind, that is still their space.  And the things in "my own home" that I've never laid eyes on before, they sometimes appear in my dreams, the past still present, here in their home.  Last week I dreamed I went into Ila's attic and some warm, clean glow surrounded the toys and quilts and Christmas decorations.  There is a chain that hangs from the ceiling in the mud room, and I've never pulled it as I've seen Lynn do, never let the stairs slide down, never peaked inside.  But I opened the piano bench.

I find two, Songs of Glory, the other, I can't make out.  So old, and I open

1881.  I have learned her flowers,

but I have never learned her hymns, so I sit there as the sky

darkens through the basement windows learning
the words passed down,
and down
and down
and down until I am grabbing one note and then another

He has waited all thy days.  Why waitest thou?

and the song starts to tell the secret:
Come and trust Him now.

This house is a life still living even though she's not here.

Help me hear her even when she's not here because these are lessons I desperately need, have needed.  God knew this and brought me home.  To my home.  To Ila's home.


  1. This is beautiful. All the history, the memories, the love, the music. Connecting your life now with those of the past. It makes me miss my family's piano, the one my aunt taught me a little ditty on at the age of five (when it was still at my grandma's house). The one I practiced on for lessons for years. The one my dad would play at night after we'd gone to bed.

    I want you to go up into that attic someday. I want to know what you'll find there.

  2. Shoot. Weird that we were both digging through old music. I hadn't sat down to play something in a while until last night and it felt good. Finding old music with the sticker stars of a former teacher is so great. IN our loneliest moments we can be reminded of how He Binds us Together with chords at cannot be broken and it turns out we're not alone at all.