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 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.