“No duty is more urgent than that of returning thanks.” -James Allen
Recently, my mom told me that my beloved piano teacher had passed on. She had reached a high age and died peacefully in her sleep. This news, delivered to me via Facebook, hit me harder than I could have prepared myself for.
Sitting there in front of my computer, I remembered the circumstances of my meeting her. Originally, it was because my sister wanted to learn how to play piano.
It was by pure chance that I decided to go with her for her first lesson and I instantly fell in love with the teacher. She was the same age as my grandma, which was great because back then younger people terrified me. We hit it off right away.
I must have been around thirteen years old back then and I was in a really dark place of my young life. My eating disorder, which I had developed at the age of about ten, was starting to get more serious.
I lost weight rapidly and my exercising got out of hand. I was a shadow of myself and I was terribly insecure and weary of life.
Spending one hour a week with this unusually large, brilliant lady was like my sanctuary. When I closed the door of her tiny piano room, I knew I was in a safe place.
She listened to me when no one else did. If I showed you my piano skills today, you’d agree with me that we probably talked more than we practiced playing. Being with her was like the counseling I desperately needed.
I treasured each and every moment with her. I was more open to her about my anorexia, about my problems with the family, and my terrifying fear of my brother than I had ever been with somebody else. I trusted her. No matter how caught up I was in my illness, I never skipped a lesson.
Then, I went to the US and our ways separated. Over the years, I would hear frequent updates of how she was doing and I would send her the occasional letter.
When driving by her house, I would make a mental note to schedule some time for a visit sometime in the future. I never did.
My piano teacher had often told me that she had seen the vulnerability in my eyes and my posture when we first met. She saw that I was a broken soul and she knew that she was there to guide me and to help me through some of the hardest years of my life.
She gave me love when I needed it, without me having to ask for it. She wanted to take me under her wings and she did.
During those years, I was too young to understand the capacity of her love for me. But as the years went by, long after I had stopped taking lessons, I began to understand, and yet, I never thanked her in the way she deserved. I always allowed life to get in the way.
Why do we do that?
Why does the urgent so very often overshadow the important?
Why does the brain overrule the heart so many times?
Why do we choose the wrong path just because it seems more convenient at the time?
Is it life itself? Is it that we’re just too busy? Is it because we don’t know any better? Is this just pure selfishness?
Let’s face it; we could all do better, right?
I had so many chances, so many opportunities to see her, but I never made it happen. I mean, I have the best excuse: I was sick, terribly sick. So, it wasn’t really a choice, right?
While that is true, there have been weeks in the past ten years when I was doing okay. Had I made an effort, I would have been able to visit her for an hour or two.
Yet, I thought that there would always be a tomorrow, a better occasion, a day when things were not so stressful and life would be less busy and complicated.
However, as we all know, tomorrow is not guaranteed.
And it is tragic to see that it takes the death of someone you genuinely loved to make you realize the importance of acting today.
There is no excuse for not expressing your feelings to your loved ones today. There is no excuse for not saying thank you today. There is no excuse for not taking ten minutes of your time to call someone who needs you. There is no excuse not to forgive someone who sincerely apologizes right now.
There is simply no good reason to postpone the important until tomorrow.
Knowing that I never told her how grateful I was for what she had been doing for me breaks my heart. Knowing that she will never hear how important she was in keeping me from going down the deep end is unforgivable.
The impact that she had on my life cannot be underrated. Not only did she save me from drowning many times, she also shared with me the wisdom she had gathered throughout her lifetime.
I remember sitting next to her in front of her piano soaking in every word she shared with me. And I cannot help but think of all the wisdom I missed by never visiting her again.
Maybe this knowledge would have prevented me from making the mistake of putting her out of my mind one too many times?
Maybe, maybe not. One thing I am certain of, however, is that she would have been delighted to see me again. She would have been moved to tears to see my husband for the first time.
She would have loved to see the woman I have come to be. And she would have deserved to know that I am recovering and doing so much better. The sparkle in my eyes should have been reflected in hers.
Appreciate the people who help you, who are there for you, who see that you are vulnerable and don’t just look away. Appreciate them today and act on it.
This is your opportunity to do it—right now, while there’s time.
Photo by Kissa