On a previous tour Dan passed through Chicago last summer. He offered to get us tickets but I didn't think I could stand through a concert at eight months pregnant, so we arranged to meet downtown earlier that day instead. It was wonderful seeing him. We had a lovely lunch sitting outdoors, and talked about life with growing families. How your family had to move out of your Brooklyn apartment because of bedbugs. How Audrey was growing so fast. He was telling Phoebe about Audrey, and showing her photos of her on his iPhone. He was so proud of her. It was so hard for him to be apart from his family, he said, and after he finished touring with Regina he wasn't going to do it anymore. Really, we said. But isn't this what you've worked so hard for? He shook his head. It's not worth it.
We talked about music. Carl and I missed hearing live music, I said. The best live performance we ever saw was Rachel Yamagata at the Bowery Ballroom. Oh, you like her, Dan said. I played with her at the Bowery Ballroom a little while ago. I flipped. What?? You played with Rachel Yamagata and you never told us? Dan shrugged, and tried to change the subject. It was the same kind of response he had given when I had gotten him to admit that he had worked with Coldplay. He was so modest - simply incapable of admitting his talent, even in the company of friends.
I'm trying to remember our time on the praise team together at St. John's. Dan always had a word of encouragement, even though I'm sure he was secretly aghast at my playing. He'd offer a tip here and there when I pressed him, and I think he once told me, ever so gently, that I didn't have to play quite so many notes. The best pianists aren't showy, was the gist of what he said. And it's true. When he played, his notes were clean and spare, but strong, honest. He was rarely in the spotlight, but his accompaniment to whomever he was supporting was the backbone of every performance. He always made everyone around him sound better, brought out their best. I wish I could hear him play again.
Audrey, your father was one of the most talented, and one of the most humble people I have ever known. He was kind, gentle, funny, fun-loving and incredibly selfless. Everyone he met was blessed by him. He arranged the music for my walk down the aisle on my wedding day. It was a morning wedding, and the hours leading up to it passed by in a blur. But when the doors opened and I heard your father start to play the piano, everything came into focus. It was the most precious wedding gift, and I’ll forever be grateful for it.
Julia, I remember sitting in the church for your wedding. During a special song sung by one of your friends, Carl leaned over and whispered, What is that smell? Something smells so sweet. I think it’s the fragrance of the Holy Spirit. I replied, No, it’s the flowers. But now, looking back on it, I’m not sure that he wasn’t right after all. I remember the look on Dan’s face when he saw you walk down the aisle, the look that stayed on throughout the afternoon, as he danced with you. He was so happy.