Last Dance with My Father

I’ve no fear of dying nor the afterlife due to a most unusual gift my father gave me: the last dance.

I used to be shy about my flute playing and hated to play in front of people, especially my band conductor in high school.  The problem was, the only way to move up in rank in the band was to challenge the person ahead of me to competition with the conductor as the judge.  I’d get nervous at the last moment and blow it – accidental pun.

My father was a trained classical pianist.  If he hadn’t been drafted during the Vietnam War, he probably could have done more with it.  I used to love to listen to him play  Moonlight Sonata or Fur Elise on the piano.  When I was 15, we found out that he had brain cancer.  He had passed away a couple of months before I graduated from high school, only two years after his diagnosis.

Shortly after he died, I played my flute in a solo and ensemble contest.  As usual, I was quite nervous and began to feel the stage fright take over.  My piece was a solo with no accompanying piano nor other musicians.  The judges sat at a table in an otherwise, big, empty room. Daunting.

I picked up my flute and just before I began to play, I said: “This is for you, Daddy.”  The next thing I knew I was elsewhere.  I could hear beautiful music being played on a flute far away but, it wasn’t me playing it.  I no longer a corporeal being, my body was gone and I was just spirit. My soul was with my father’s soul, and we were dancing, dancing to the flute music.  We swirled and flowed in a dazzling display of color and love.  It reminded me later of Vincent Van Gogh’s painting “Starry Night.”

The music stopped.  I heard applause, and I opened my eyes.  The flute was still in my hands, and the judges were standing in ovation.  I was a bit disoriented for a moment.  They thought that I had been the one playing but, it hadn’t been.  I don’t know who had been playing while I was with my father; I have no memory of it.

A month later, while sitting in band class, the results came in from the competition.  I had received a perfect score with a glowing comment by the judges.  The conductor and my friends were shocked. I wasn’t, though.  I was grateful to the being, or the part of my being, who had played while I danced the last dance with my father.


Image: Mystical Flute, by Steve Smith.

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