For a long time, I had been looking for my beautiful piano teacher, Mrs. Lance. I went on exhaustive internet searches that came up empty. Her blue shingled house had been sold. Her phone number no longer in service. I had tracked people down on Facebook, students I had known but not really, kids at end-of-year recitals whose parents my mother would run into at the market while I stood bored and annoyed as they chatted. I sent these strangers messages, do you know where she is? The reply, always the same: No. But I am wondering too.
A few weeks ago, I was in my parents home and I mentioned my search. My father, in a that-reminds-me-moment, went into the other room and handed me a book. He had found it while cleaning out the garage. Weep No More My Lady by Mary Higgins Clark. A tattered, yellowed cover, and on the inside, scrawled in pencil, J. Lance.
I have no recollection of her loaning it to me. I can not imagine that she meant for me to keep it, with the way her name had been so deliberately and proudly written, there was no doubt that the pages belonged to her. When I find her, I’ll give it back to her, I thought.
So the news, from my mother, that she had run into E. did I remember her? And of course, I could not forget E. nearly six feet tall at thirteen years old with her wild hair and crooked glasses who played piano and sang songs she had composed herself, one strange song in particular, I Can Fly, which we always remembered because she sang it at the top of her lungs, soaring boldly and confidently to non-existent, off-key notes. The news that my mother had run into her and learned that Mrs. Lance had died three years ago comes at me with such a strange and terrible pow. The permanence of her disappearance just doesn’t seem possible.
Her children took the piano, my mother told me. And truly, this seemed like the most important information, the biggest reassurance, that the piano had not been snatched at some estate sale, had not been left on the street to be taken away. That it belonged to them, to her, still.
I can think of no greater gift than music. Not the talent for it. Not even the sound of it. I mean, the love of it. To be shown that, given that, I am forever grateful.