A former principal bassoonist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra was a member of my institute for learning in retirement. When he died last year, some of his former students and fellow orchestra members played in a memorial concert, now an annual event that Peter and I attended last week.
The sun was streaming in the tall windows of the Harvard gym. As we sat in the second row, we could have touched the members of the wind octet playing the Mozart piece or the former BSO concertmaster playing the violin in a Brahms sonata. The wife of the honoree, a fine violinist in her own right, sat in the row in front of us. Something about the moment—her erect posture and proud face, the joyful Mozart played by her husband’s former students, the sunny day and, perhaps, where I am in my life—brought tears to my eyes.
Shortly after the concert, a former student called to me from an outdoor restaurant table as I was on my way to do an errand. He jumped up to give me a hug, told his luncheon partner that I was his mentor and said how much he and the school misses me. I could feel tears welling up again as I walked away.
This joyful sadness is a good thing. It reminds us to savor events in the moment.
Because they are fleeting.