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Death and Guitars

OK, not exactly the most upbeat topic for my first real post, but something that has been on my mind for the last several days.

Over the weekend, we got the shocking news that my son’s not quite 40 year old guitar teacher had died unexpectedly. Certainly not the first time anyone in our family has had to deal with death, but it never does get easier.  My son was understandably very upset.  He had taken lessons with this teacher for over 2 years and had greatly admired the man and counted him as a friend.  I think the teacher became sort of like a cool parent to my son – only slightly younger than my husband and I, but cool and understanding rather than strict.

What surprised me, though, was that I was greatly affected as well.  I have had to deal with death many times – my dad passed away suddenly when I was in high school and in my adult life I have lost my mom and both in-laws as well as all but two of my many uncles and my one lone blood related aunt.  My yoga teacher died in her late 40’s from cancer – I had known she was ill when she gave up teaching, but always assumed she would “get better,” so I was saddened and surprised to see her obit one day.  But I didn’t cry for my yoga teacher or mope about as I have the last few days over my son’s teacher.  I have been trying to figure out what’s different.

I think maybe it has to do with my son.  He is a person who does not like his routine or his world upset.  It has been this way since he was quite young.  Neither he nor I deal well with change.  Losing a person you see every week and for my son, someone who was an understanding confidante, really upsets the cart.  He misses his teacher, but he also misses the simple way his world used to be.  I think I grieve for the lost easiness of his life, and know that over and over again, he will have to deal with the cart being upset and things being completely out of his control.  I guess I had hoped to protect him a little bit longer.

He was absolutely frantic about finding a new teacher.  My son is quite good at guitar, which is why he did well with an older teacher, rather than with the typical college students who also teach around town.  He was worried that he would never find anyone as good as his former teacher again.  Luckily, he also takes lessons with a talented trombone teacher who performs and is deeply involved in the local music scene.  That teacher has given us the name of a professional jazz guitarist who may be able to take my son even farther than his late teacher could have.

So, what comes of  such a terrible tragedy?  Well, for one, my son and I had been butting heads like a couple of crazed rams lately.  Teenagers and moms are not notorious for getting along.  I am starting to realize that it is not long before he is catapulted out into the real world and out from under my wing, so I am trying hard to readjust how I deal with him – making that spot under the wing a little softer and comfortable and a lot less stifling.  He seems to see my compassion for him and accept it, so the last few days we have been talking and walking and getting along better than we had in a while.

I think also the situation is causing him to examine whether he wants to recommit to guitar, since lately it has taken second place to his passion for skateboarding.  Many of his friends who took lessons with the late teacher have decided they will probably quit.  My son thinks he still has a strong interest and is going to try to continue.

So, death and guitars.  They come together often in the world of rock and now in my world.  I hope my son can put his heart around his sorrow and never forget his first guitar instructor who fed his passion and was his mentor and friend.  Hopefully that passion will continue.  To the one who was lost too young, rest in peace.

Best regards,

Lynn

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