Tuesday, September 10, 2013

To the Trombonist

It is my hero's birthday today. If you've been reading this blog for a while, or if you know me IRL, you will know who I mean - the Trombonist.

Last year, when it had finally sank in for us in the lower brass that he was really leaving us (for college across the Pond), we planned all sorts of things in his honor. We were going to roll out a red carpet for him when he came to visit during band camp; we were going to bake a cake for this day, his birthday. Yet we did/have done none of this.

Why? He is still the Best Person Ever. We still all want to be him. But I find, to my surprise and to my shame, that day to day, I don't miss him terribly. The trombone section still sounds beautiful, though I would love to hear him play again. The underclassmen on band staff are swell enough that I don't think much about those evaporated off the top.

What happened? My loyalty - is it really so frail? After all my hero did for me, those two years I was in his section, have I really forgotten him?

No, I haven't. I realize, writing this, that I do miss him. But it is a small, manageable emotion, not threatening to affect in any way my normal functioning in the world.

Am I right to feel guilty over that? It probably doesn't matter, to him. Perhaps he just wanted to get out of our small town. Perhaps he no longer thinks of the legacy he has left. Perhaps he is having far too much fun in Scotland to worry about the section he has left behind in his glorious wake. I hope the latter, at least, is true: that wherever he is my hero is happy, being his affable honorable wonderful self. I hope also that he spares us a thought once in a while, we who owe him immeasurably for his example and kindness.

The lower brass is my section now, and I strive to be sixty percent of what he was - a stretch, since I am not half the hero that my hero is. We all want - but more specifically, I want - to make him proud.

Normally, I'd put my "general application" paragraph here. But this time I do not know how one would generalize from my experience. Let me try nevertheless: while they're with you, honor your heroes. When they leave, honor them still, not by living in the past but by paying forward all they ever did for you.

I have much to pay.

So this is an ode, a tribute, to someone who probably never will read it. Well and good. Perhaps my token of devotion would embarrass him, to receive it. But here are some final words, for one whose worth cannot be captured in mere words:

Thank you for everything. I miss you. Be well.


Your Left-Hand Man


"Cake Walk" from Suite of Old American Dances - Robert Russell Bennett

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