Friday, February 03, 2006

The Day the Music Died

Dear Rach,

Last weekend your dad sold his electric guitar on Ebay. Made more than he originally paid. Wonder why this never happens when he sells a car (or house!).

It's been over eight months since the music died at the Scher's house. FatBlueCat ceased to exist on May 28th. After more than a dozen years of standing in a kitchen, listening (and occasionally singing along - hoping nobody could actually hear me) to Rod and his band practice classic rock for a couple of hours once a week, the band packed up and gave me back my laundry room.

I miss hearing Brown Eyed Girl, Tiki Bar, Give Me One Reason and Better Things. I miss sitting out on the porch chatting with Rod, Steve, Ray and Kim before practice and joining them for a beer during their break. I miss the thrill of watching your daddy lose himself to the joy of drumming before a real live audience (sometimes even getting paid to do so!). I became the unofficial band roadie, but I felt more like a groupie. These guys were really good! And I always hoped you and Amy could manage to time one of your visits so you could hear them play. Who knows. You might have even recognized a song or two.

We got up early on the morning of your murder. We'd loaded the drums the night before and planned to have a light breakfast before heading down to the Farmers' Market for the gig we'd all been looking forward to. After a couple of disturbing phone messages and a call to your mom, we'd learned that something was terribly wrong, but at that point didn't really know anything specific. We didn't know where you were. We were both desperate not to utter a single word that might tip the balance of fate and simply hoped you were safe and unharmed, merely scared and possibly in shock after witnessing the horror of that early morning nightmare. A nightmare we had yet to learn of.

Rather than sit and wait for the phone call that would forever change our lives, we drove downtown, prepared to keep our original plans with the band. Who were we kidding?? Rod simply couldn't allow himself to think the worst. Maybe he felt if he could go along with the original plan, he could keep the nightmare from unfolding. I wasn't as brave. I had a terrible sinking feeling, somehow knowing we'd need to be on the earliest flight out to Virginia (hoping the worst case scenario would be a rush to a hospital bedside, not wanting to even imagine anything worse than that). I even went so far as to look up some flight options on Travelocity, shaking my head and muttering to myself, "You're such a worrier. Be optimistic!"

I wish that's all it could take to keep that awful news from coming our way.

It was a beautiful morning. Summer was just around the corner. The sun was out and I had originally hoped to bask in its warmth as I listened to the music with some of our friends who planned to join me.

I don't remember what we said as we drove downtown to the Haymarket. I may have been silently saying, "Please, please, please, please, please" while Rod was focused on simply getting through the each minute without falling apart.

We never even unloaded the drums. The call came from the detective just as we pulled into the parking lot and turned off the engine. It still breaks my heart to think of all that died in that single moment.

I have no idea how we managed to drive back home, but we did and the band (and various friends) appeared on our front porch to comfort me yet allowed your daddy the privacy he so needed as he wandered back and forth from the house to the back deck. I finally got a hold of Amy. I hated having to call her with such terrible, terrible news. My heart broke all over again. God, what an awful, awful day.

When we first moved to Lincoln in '92 your dad happened to mention that he'd always wanted to learn how to play the drums. He also said he'd always asked his mom for a pony for his birthday. I encouraged him to buy a drum kit and take lessons (notice how I wisely ignored the pony hint?). That's all it took. A friend introduced us to an incredible guitarist and from that moment on there was always a band in the house. As with all bands, I suppose, members came and went depending on their own life circumstances (and of course we moved to Texas, but Rod was able to find a group of guys to play with for the short time we were there). But through all the changes, Rod and Steve stuck together, even practicing when they were between bass and rhythm guitar players.

The drums were never unpacked from their travel cases. A friend bought them last summer. The electric guitar was shipped to a stranger in Las Vegas. However, an accoustic guitar remains in the living room and every so often Rod will pick it up and play a song or two (as I type, I can hear him playing it right now). And just the other night, as we were driving home from having dinner out with some good friends, Rod began to sing the first few lines of song that I hadn't heard him sing in over a year. It almost made me cry, realizing the music will never really die. Just as your memory will never die. It's a part of who we are and of who we've become.

Maybe some day Shaylyn will decide she wants to play the drums. I'm sure Debbie (or any sane grandmother) wouldn't appreciate Nanny and Grandpa sending her a drum kit for her birthday. But if Shaylyn ever decides she wants to pick up some sticks, I know someone who'd be more than happy to give her a few pointers. Hmmm, maybe we can find a digital kit on Ebay...




Blogger booklogged said...

Les, I just read through this entire blog. My heart breaks for you and the great sadness you and your family have experienced. I cannot even imagine the pain, but I am so sorry you were forced to suffer in this way. What a beautiful girl Rachel is. I think she is watching over you, her dad, her sister and her dear little daughter. Your lettters to her are filled with such love and tenderness. I hope they are bringing you some hope, as well as peace. Words are so lacking, but I do want you to know I care. My thoughts are with you.

7:14 PM  
Blogger Les said...

Booklogged, thank you for your kind words (and for taking the time to read through the whole blog!). It's been a great healing process to write my letters and hopefully has helped others who might be grieving, as well as helping those who don't know what to say or do for friends facing such sadness. We're not taught how to deal with death very well. Prior to Rachel's death, I had no idea what to say or do (or what not to say or do!) when someone had lost a loved one. I hope I've learned something from all of this and will do better the next time someone needs me to be there for them. Again, thank you for your thoughtfulness and for sending a comment. Rod & I both appreciate it.

12:22 PM  

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