The day that I learned that Louise had passed away, I taught with a certain intensity. It all seemed terribly important to do something with those lessons. In my view, a weekly piano lessons is, by definition, process-oriented endeavor. Teachers patiently try to provide ideal conditions, plant seeds, participate in growth over a period of time. But what if we approached every lesson as if it were the last one? How is that student changed as a result of our encounter? How are we changed? Louise’s spirit felt strong that day, not like a gentle breeze, but more like an urgent wind. Later, I felt the comfort of her presence too; her optimistic energy, incredible mind, warm friendship.
Eulogies will pour in about our dear Louise. I fear that I cannot possibly do her justice. I’ll just describe that bits and pieces of this incredible woman keep coming into my consciousness. Different colors that form an, as of now, incomplete tapestry. When I speak of different colors, I don’t mean different shades of the same color, but wildly different hues. My fleeting impressions: a force of nature, a gentle and warm soul; a tidy, extremely organized mind combined with the ability to put practicalities aside when pursuing a dream; one who inspired a bit of fear when she came to observe lessons and one whose affirmation gives strength and confidence even now; an elegant, poised lady and a friend that enjoyed a good laugh. It’s so hard to put into words! Louise was such a gifted writer and editor. I’m sure she could help me if she were still here.
Sadly, she is not still here, and it’s hard to accept this new reality. I haven’t come close to describing Louise adequately, but there is something that happened in the last couple of days that provided a hint to me, as I attempted to capture the essence of this grand lady: A revolving door of visitors at the hospital. It seemed like everyone wanted to personally say goodbye. There was none of the usual hesitancy about the appropriateness of intruding on a private family moment. We all felt that Louise “belonged to us.” There was the desire to say “thank you,” and perhaps “please watch over us.” Gratitude, deep love… I never would have guessed when I met with Louise in 1996 as she sat behind a big desk that I would experience these emotions, mixed with a great deal of pain. I would have never guessed that this somewhat intimidating figure would become family to me and change the course of my life.