Thank you to the following people for organizing a magical afternoon this past Sunday at Ruggero Piano in Raleigh: Polly Greene, Susan Burnette, Cree Russell, Dottie Buster, Pamela Tsai, Chris Dobson, Deborah and Richard Ruggero, all of the students who spent a beautiful weekend afternoon making music for Taylor’s Tale, and all of the family and friends who attended.
Thank you also to the piano student and his friend, a cellist, who played a beautiful, impromptu rendition of Taylor Swift’s “You Belong to Me” after learning that it is one of Taylor’s favorite songs. My sister was in the room when this happened. I knew it was coming and made a point to watch her face as the song began.
Often, T will get very quiet and appear to gaze off into empty space, and sometimes, the people around her assume that she’s zoning out. I think that many people forget (or never realize in the first place) that she is blind – which perfectly explains the daydreamy look she gets. Her eyes are beautiful and still have the power to betray the way she feels at any given moment, but mechanically speaking, they have nowhere to look. And when she grows silent, it’s usually because she’s listening. In the absence of visual stimuli, T has mastered the art of picking up even the slightest auditory cues. So when others think she’s ‘zoning out,’ she’s actually 100 percent invested in the moment and is likely more wholly aware of all of its nuances than the sighted people around her.
As the notes of “You Belong to Me” danced from the piano and cello on the stage to where T was sitting in the crowd, it was as if someone had suddenly switched on a light inside of her. Rarely overtly emotional, T instead allowed herself only the slightest smile – but a smile that illuminated her face just the same.
I regret not getting the names of the musicians who brought real happiness to my sister on Sunday. In case either of them happens to stumble across these words, though, I want them to know that if I had been thinking clearly when I thanked them in person on Sunday, I would have said – to borrow from the title of another Taylor Swift song – Today Was a Fairytale.