Monday, October 12, 2015


A long time ago (sorry, but the truth sometimes isn't kind...) I went to college.  When I arrived, there were things I said I would never do.

1. My choral career was over.
2. I was done with theater.
3. A capella music? Pshaw. Insane. Never.

I made a lot of stupid choices, as everyone does when they first move from shelter into the big world. Finding yourself is hard. I had done choral music for my college applications. Well, I was in college. That one, I kept. No sweat.

Within 1 year, I had broken #2. I was not done with theater. I minored in theater, learned a new craft (Thanks, Kathryn!!), made lifelong friends, and enhanced my ability to enjoy art. But I didn't perform as I did in high school.

Within 2 years, I had broken #3. I wanted to be in the co-ed group. I auditioned and was not called back. Torture! Agony! Embarrassment! I had told everyone I was auditioning. EVERYONE. A significant public failure. A few months later, my next door neighbor, who was in the longest-lived all-female a capella group mentioned to me "You know, we're auditioning and we need altos." My thought process was that I would audition for practice.

But I walked into the teeny piano cubicle in Old Cabell Hall and met Catherine Theis, the rising Musical Director of the group. I went through the exercises for her (I believe that Erika Wicks was also present). I pitch-matched and harmonized. I sang part of my prepared solo song, only because I lost track of where I was and forgot where to go after the bridge (see above re: Torture...). But I was called back, and I fooled them into thinking I could sing quietly enough at the callback to be asked to join, and I did without a moment's hesitation.

It was the best choice of my college career. I was instantly friends with 15 other women, only 1 of whom I'd already known, and we remain friends to this day. I could write about each of them, but this one is about Catherine.

Catherine Theis and I went on to graduate together, even though she was a year behind me at school.  In addition to running an a capella group, she was an RA and a double major and she STILL finished school a year ahead of schedule. She also had a calmness and patience I could never manage to replicate, despite my desire to be calmer, more patient, and seemingly a better person. She is the best kind of person. She and I arranged a song as a good-bye gift to the group (I'll Remember by Madonna), but when we went to play the song for them at the farewell dinner, we instead played the "Sexual Healing" cover by Soul Asylum. Because we all had a joke about it, and because we could.

We called her Theis (sounds like t-i-s-e with a long "i" sound) and even though she hasn't been Theis since her wedding in 1997 we can't stop ourselves and either she likes it or she's too nice to correct us. Last Christmas, I got a message from her saying that she was going to be in town and could she stop by to see me. Of course! She did, and it was a marvelous visit. She brought  her lovely husband (who I met at said wedding in 1997) and their 3 beautiful children. We spoke about what our lives were doing, and about Connor, and all the things.

Catherine's musical abilities have always been enormous. She shared with me in December that she was writing music with a Christian group at her church, and it made me so happy that her gifts are still being shared. On Saturday, she sent me a private message via facebook that she and her colleagues had written and recorded a song, most of which was inspired by my blog postings starting with the night after Connor died. Lee and I sat on our front porch and listened to the song together. It's beautiful, and I almost wanted to comment snarkily to her that I was really glad it was written for a lower vocal range because that meant I could sing it. I needed to make it light - a lifelong part of my personality. Instead, I waited a day to be clearer, and then told her how much we loved it, and asked permission to share it with you. And maybe, just a little, show her how much it means to me.

Let's be clear - I will never, ever be able to sing this song. I know where the words come from, and they would be stuck forever behind the lump in my throat.

But I can listen to it, and know that Connor, who loved music and always danced, has brought music to the world, and that makes me so happy. You can listen now too - link is below for you.