Friday, December 2, 2011

how much

I think I've mentioned before, like here and here and here, how much I love my husband, and what a good man he is.

He's a beautiful person. From the inside to the outside, from the tips to the ends. All the way through.

But he's not just beautiful to me, or to my family. He's beautiful, and dedicated, and inspiring, to many, many other people in his life too.

He is a music educator. He lives and breathes music. He shares this love with anyone and everyone. He is music, I think. Take an x-ray, and you'd probably see notes—notes everywhere! Crowding, calling, laughing, singing out.

Two weeks ago, I got to celebrate and share what this beautiful man has achieved.

Two weeks ago, I was at a 10-year reunion concert, marking 10 years of a jazz program that my husband built from the ground up. A program that, before my husband arrived, had one combo with 5 kids in it. There are now hundreds of kids enrolled. There are combos, ensembles, a school bands program, and a killer jazz orchestra that's about to tour the US West coast. Every month, world-class jazz musicians come to perform. My husband has been involved in music festivals, international tours, and jazz camps. He is incredible, devoted and so hard working. He is completely passionate about what he does.

That night, two weeks ago, I was sitting contentedly in the dark of the concert. Tucked high up on the second floor, in an almost sold-out theatre, sitting with my girl (and without my boy, who was away at scout camp).

I suddenly thought, This is amazing. What my husband has done. What he has helped to create. Because now he has an amazing jazz faculty; he has an amazing assistant and co-conspirator; there are now others helping teach in the school bands program, and the program is growing, growing. Now he is building something with others. Now he's part of a beautiful team.

Emotion rose inside me. I felt so moved. I suddenly thought, Someone should say something. Someone should mark this moment. Someone should thank this man.

And I thought, Perhaps they've organised to give him flowers? Maybe someone will pop onto the stage at the end and say something. Yeah, I'm sure someone will. Someone else. I snuggled back in my chair, there in the shadows.

Then I thought, People are busy. Life is busy. This concert is squeezed in between busy and busy. Hmmm. I don't know that anyone's going to pop onto the stage.

I suddenly realised.

It's me.

I'm going to go on stage. Here. In front of over a hundred people. I am going to thank this beautiful man.

Holy mackerel. Instant nausea.

And so, as the music played, I tried to think of what I'd say. Some words came in. Nausea rose. My skin prickled. I felt cold. I thought of more words. My mouth went dry. Over a hundred people were in this room.

Then my husband said, "This will be our last piece for the night," and the orchestra began to play.

I leaned over and whispered in my girls' ear, "I'm going to go on stage to say thank you to Daddy."
Her eyes went huge.
Big grin. "I'm coming!" she said, and we both stood.

We went down the stairs, into the lower level. We saw my husband's colleague who was videotaping the concert. I leaned in and whispered, "Do you think there'll be an encore?"
He said, "I think this'll be it."
"I want to go up and say something," I said. "When do you think would be a good time?"
His eyes went huge.
The music ended.
Big, slow smile.
"Now, I'd say."


And here, for the hearing impaired (because even I can't tell half of what I said in this video!) is the text of my speech. Somehow, I found the right words to say.

I haven't the same volume in my voice as my husband, and I don't know how he does this, night after night, but I wanted to say a few words because the spirit has moved me. Ten years ago, or just over ten years ago, I was a very homesick young mother living in California with a music teacher for a husband, and I asked him, would he please, please come to Australia with me. And he said, Of course. And it was uncomplicated for you because you loved us so much.
And so then he came here, to this country, to this beautiful place, and you didn't know anybody. You just knew my family, and that was it. And on day 2 of arriving, he picked up the yellow pages and started looking for work.
And I've never seen anyone more dedicated or more devoted to his job than you. And the passion you have for music and music education and the people that you teach and are part of—whose lives you're a part of—is extraordinary, and it shines in every single thing you do. And you've helped build something beautiful here. And I've never seen anything like it, and I think you're amazing, and I'm very very glad you came here. 


  1. Beautiful! You made me cry....happy tears of course! Hugs xoxox

  2. So brave Helena, and so beautiful,and so worth it, and so wonderful!!!

    Love Deb

  3. ah! just the right thing came to you at just the right moment! what a nice tribute, you brave woman!

    i'm catching up on some lost time here in blogworld...i appreciate the sharing that you're doing about your journey through, in, around sadness and the ribbons of joy woven throughout. it is beautifully written about and i'm sure speaks to many of us. keep on!

  4. I'm SO glad that someone got up and said something and I'm SO glad that it was you, Helena! How lucky you both are to have each other :-) And how lucky we are that you are so kind in sharing bits of your life with us.

  5. I know I said this before but you are a beautiful family and I love the way you LIVE!

  6. Well it was a treat to see and hear you "in person!" You are a beautiful couple. What lovely words you said. He was so pleased, and I think you inspired all who watched as well. :) Thank you for sharing this.

  7. So beautiful! i felt welled up reading this! I love that the spirit moved you and that you had those words to say! I love that you found the right words and that your daughter accompanied you. I just love this story so much!

    How awesome that your husband has this passion and is sharing it with others! Wonderful story, thank you for sharing!

  8. How gutsy, beautiful, and inspired!

  9. I LOVED this. I am sitting here with tears in my eyes. I love that you went up there and poured out your beautiful heart. I loved seeing you, hearing you, my friend from so far away...but it felt so close. I love what your husband has done. Thank you for posting this. Kei and I were just talking about your family. They did a special on the news about Jazz and and they talked to so many Jazz musicians and they all had this love in their voice for the music.

    I am just so happy that I watched this. :)

  10. I can't see through the water in my eyes. That was beautiful. You are beautiful!!! Congrats to your husband for inspiring young kids everyday, for inspiring you, your family, and all of us that get a glimpse...


I love hearing from you! Thank you for your heartfelt, thoughtful responses—they lift me, and give me light.