Cherish Each Moment

Five or six weeks ago, when our piano lesson was canceled, I felt a bit relieved. In five years of lessons, I have never heard Maya or Ellie complain once about going. I felt lucky when Darrin offered to take the girls as I could have that time to myself. As the mom, I could never express “but I don’t wanna.”

Life with kids is hectic, even though we limit our extra-curriculars. The cancellation was like a gift of extra time when there aren’t enough hours in the day.

Last fall I created the “car picnic” as Wednesday was the only day of the week we could squeeze in both Girl Scouts and piano. Fast food is unavoidable at times, but I was not going to make Happy Meals a weekly habit for dinner. Before Girl Scout meetings, in addition to gathering craft supplies and handbooks, I made sandwiches and gathered fruit, drinks, and other healthy sides to pack in a cooler. We had to cancel piano a few times when Girl Scout outings left us too far a distance to travel back in time for a lesson. This past Wednesday, Ellie had her first T-ball practice during our usual piano lesson time slot. We would have had to cancel yet again.

Five or six weeks ago was the first time Mr. Romba called in sick in our 5 years of being his students. I imagine it was his first time calling in sick in 44 years. Working til the age of 87, he wasn’t showing up to work because he had to. It was obvious that teaching music filled Mr. Romba with great joy. We could see that in his smile every Wednesday afternoon.

He was like a grandpa to us. He was kind like a grandpa. He was patient like a grandpa. He was always so happy to see us. Every time we walked through the door he threw up his arms and smiled as if we had just shown up for a surprise visit. We could always make him proud even when we didn’t practice or start working on our new songs.

When I got the call last week that Mr. Romba had passed away I was not surprised or sad. I knew five years ago when we began lessons that this day would come. I did not feel sad for the loss, I felt blessed for having known him. I felt peace knowing that he had not suffered long, and continued to teach until the end of his life.

I told Darrin and together we broke the news gently to the girls. Darrin expressed how honored we are to have been his students. Ellie sat on my lap and she and I both let a few tears drip down our faces. Maya showed little emotion. I’m still not sure if she is holding in it or just accepting it as a fact of life.

Saturday morning we attended the funeral. It did not feel like an obligation, but our only chance to say good-bye. Ellie was willing to say a prayer near Mr. Romba as Maya stayed seated near the back of the room. We looked at many pictures of him with his wife, children and grandchildren. We realized we had never seen Mr. Romba dressed in anything but a suit or tuxedo. I still felt more peace than a sense of loss.

We got in the car, and the drive home, for me, was silent weeping. I could not hold back the tears. As the girls chatted just behind me they had no idea that I was crying. I couldn't stop thinking about how much I wish I could see Mr. Romba’s smile just one more time and tell him good-bye in person. I couldn't stop thinking about how badly I want to go to piano lessons.

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