The lights were off when I walked into the practice room. I heard the sniffling and then the sobs. Deep ones.
“Hello?” I questioned the room.
I flicked on the light switch and he came into view. He was face down on the Baby Grand, and there were papers and tissues scattered all around him. I ran to him and slowly came up behind him.
He was half sitting on the piano bench, bent like a pretzel, face pressed on the piano keys.
He slowly sat up, his face was red, piano key impressions on his cheeks. He grabbed a tissue from the box beside him and blew his nose. He dropped the tissue on the floor and then took another to wipe his face.
“Emily.” He looked at me. His eyes were shinny.
“Oh…Jesus, Emily.” He sounded so sad, yet awestruck at the same time.
“It’s so beautiful.” He said.
I sat down beside him. “What is, Dr. Crites?”
“All of it.” He waved his hand at the papers on the floor: sheet music. I picked one up.
Handel’s Halleluiah chorus. I picked up another: Oh Holy NIGHT. One more: Oh Come All Ye Faithful.
I looked at him, my mentor and advisor for the past four years. I had grown to respect and admire him greatly.
“All so beautiful,” he said again. Then, “My wife sang.” They had been married thirty-three years. I felt a welling up of sadness and looked away from him. Karen Crites had died 3 months ago from pancreatic cancer. It would be his first Christmas without her. My tears started to fall. I turned away from him and grabbed a tissue from the box.
“It’s all-right,” He said. Him comforting me. I felt selfish, then angry at myself.
I let out a sob as he gently touched my shoulder. Then I just couldn’t stop the tears. I cried for him. I cried for his dead wife. I cried for the music.
I felt him shift position. And then through my sobbing I heard it. Silent Night. I sat there crying as he played. The music washed over me and a felt a clam settle in my soul. He was right. It was beautiful.
All rights belong to its author. It was published on e-Stories.org by demand of Karen Halloway.
Published on e-Stories.org on 12/14/2012.