The recital was extremely draining, but it felt really good to do. I was sad and crying, but I was amazed at how intensely I could feel those emotions. Performing is so vital to my well-being. I know that now more than ever. It’s not about my vanity and wanting praise from others. It’s about me having this compulsive need to make people feel what I feel. Music sounds pretty for a reason. Humans respond to music differently than they respond to any other stimuli. It’s almost a cliché with musicians, but I really do live for music. I compulsively listen to music. And it’s not just classical music although that’s what I am trained in. I love music. If there is something beautiful or meaningful in a piece of music I like it no matter what genre it belongs to.

I came home to my husband after being gone for the better part of a week and fell into his arms, exhausted. We had some pretty intense sex that night. It was so long in coming that it didn’t last long, but it was the most pleasurable sex I’ve ever had. Reunion sex continues to be my favorite kind – even better than make up sex, which I believe is overrated.

I returned from this “tour” a different person. I came back more confident in my ability to navigate the world on my own. I came back even more in love with my husband than I had been before I left.

My husband and I left for ND a day later and I must say I was more than a little happy to have him with me. The funeral was in the same church as my grandmother’s was 9 years ago. It was shocking to see all the cousins, aunts and uncles that I hadn’t seen for many years. They all looked so different and yet the things that I remembered about them were the same. I’ve been away from ND for 5 years, and I’ve changed a lot since I lived there. I understand the world a lot better now and I saw everybody just a little bit differently than I did when I was the naive newlywed I was when I moved away. One thing that struck me was the way people treated me. They seemed to respect me more now. They spoke to me like I was an adult even though I was 24 when I moved away; not exactly a baby. I don’t know if it is because I was the first woman in the entire family to graduate from high school, the first woman to go to college, the first person to go to graduate school, and the only person with (almost) a doctorate. I am also one of only a few cousins who moved away from ND; there are four total – my siblings and I comprising three of those four.

My sister and I played the prelude music before the service. It’s always incredibly hard to perform at a funeral; especially for someone you love. I couldn’t have gotten through the pieces without my sister at my side. We played the piece we had performed the previous weekend. Something really special happened. We both experienced the feeling of someone else playing for us. Like we were floating above our bodies and the music just flowed out of us somehow. I didn’t really say anything, but my sister mentioned it. That’s when I realized we both had the same experience. It was strange in a very good way. After we finished playing we joined the rest of the family in the room set aside for us. We all walked into the sanctuary together, and that procession made me sadder than anything else had before, but I do not know why.

The service was moving, and I actually learned a lot about my grandfather. My dad was not overly close with his father; there were some issues there. My grandfather was not the greatest of men, but he was a good man. I always remember him being happy. That is something I realized as I heard my father give the eulogy. It had never occurred to me before that my grandfather was always the one to tell a joke. He was always very happy to see us kids when we came for a visit. Sure, he could be mean and he said of lot of stupid things (he was a bit of a bigot), but it was never directed at me. My grandfather was the only person I’ve ever let call me a nickname that was a diminutive form of my real first name. I’ve rejected every other attempt by anyone else to use a nickname for me.

After everyone had spoken and the casket moved into the “funeral coach” (yeah even that has a pc term now) we got into cars and followed to the cemetery. My dad asked me to drive cause he didn’t think he could do so safely. The weather was kind of drab all morning and a little cold. There was a forecast of 60% chance of snow. But when we walked outside it was completely sunny and had warmed up considerably. We gathered around the grave and the pastor said a few words. Then as everyone was walking away my mom and dad sang a song used in their church at funerals. It’s one piece of music that always makes me cry – it has such a “final” feel to it. We got back in the car and I saw my dad cry. Not in the way I’ve seen him cry at recitals and such. It was different. He seemed lost. It was an uncontrollable sort of sobbing cry. It broke my heart to see him hurting so much. The moment passed quickly though and I was glad because it was getting hard for me to drive with tears in my own eyes.

I’ve spoken before about how I’ll know when I finally feel like an adult. I usually still feel like a kid in many ways. I thought getting married would make me grow up, but it didn’t. I thought going away to grad school by myself would, but it didn’t. The only thing that has remotely made me feel like an adult is purchasing our first washer and dryer. Well, I think I took another step towards feeling like an adult after seeing my father crumple and cry like that.

The past three weeks have been important for me. I have learned a lot, suffered a loss, and gained important experiences. It was a journey.