I was going to be a doctor. I was seventeen years old, had just been on a medical mission trip the prior summer and was convinced that as a surgeon or nurse that I would leave the greatest impact possible on the world around me. I knew that medicine seemed awesome and that I loved kids, so combining the two was my plan. I don’t remember precisely when we found out that a young boy in my children’s choir had been hit by lightening while on vacation, but I remember the prayer service. I remember the long weeks of him in the hospital. I remember the conversation where he rounded up the other boys to go find the new pastor’s son, so that he could meet them all and make friends. I remember visiting him at the hospital and having to leave the room to cry in the hallway because I my young friend was no longer the same. I never second guessed my decision to become a piano teacher.
I was going away to school. I was terrified, I hadn’t spent any significant time away from home or my family since we had traded in summer camp for family vacations when I was ten or eleven. I knew that I would be the freshman who called her mother crying all the time, the one who went home every weekend and needed her hand held when she left for school again. I remember my uncle calling, two weeks before I was to move in, asking if I’d heard from my grandmother. I remember going to her apartment with my sister, since my parents were out of town, to double check on her. I remember the way the door stuck against the chain when we tried to open it. I remember my sister’s voice, desperate, as she said she’d check the laundry room. I remember calling the police and being held by a neighbor when they busted the door open. I remember calling my Mom to tell her that her mother was gone and praying that my Daddy would answer the phone because no one should here that their mother is gone via the phone. I remember making the long drive home from school every weekend to do the family’s laundry, sort through my grandmother’s belongings, and help my Mom find the pieces to put her life back together. I never regretted forging that closer bond with my family.
I was going to be a concert pianist. The kind that was a resident performer at a University, taught lessons, and traveled while performing. I was going to make my parents and my piano teacher proud. I was going to show my relatives, the ones who said that nothing good comes of fine arts degrees, that they were wrong. I remember the first time I realized that I had no feeling in part of my left hand. I remember trying to play that damnable F major chord and watching my had spasm and shake. I remember running across campus to see my piano teacher begging her to tell me it would be alright. I remember the sports medicine doctor explaining what cubital tunnel syndrome was and how I had it. I remember sitting in the neurologists waiting room with my Mom and the other patients in the room wanting desperately to know that it wasn’t me who was there to see the doctor. I remember being told that I could either quit playing for six months or I could have major surgery. I never doubted the decision to stop playing and to change my course.
I was finally close enough to home to visit midweek and do more than just drive on weekends. I had two jobs that I loved, work that challenged me, fulfilled me, and held the promise of promotion. I was thrilled to be an active member of my family again and I was building a future around staying where I was. I remember saying yes to a dreaded night of dancing. I remember trying with all my might to change it to anything else other than country dancing. I remember a handsome man with a contagious smile. I remember the doubt that plagued me after our first date. I remember the fear that filled me when he moved 1500 miles away, just three weeks after we first met. I remember the elation when he first told me that he loved me. I remember flying to see him and not caring that we were in podunk Alabama or North Dakota, just that I was with him. I remember never hesitating when he asked me to leave everything behind and move across the country to be with him. Of all the turning points in my life, he is my favorite.