The musical term fine (pronounced fee’-nay) marks the end of a composition or movement, usually following a repeat command such as D.C. al fine or D.S. al fine.
I said goodbye to a dear friend today.
LaDonna was 64. She was diagnosed about 6 months ago with stage 4 breast cancer. The tumor had metastasized and gotten in to her spine. Within a month or so of the diagnosis, she was almost completely unable to walk.
They did a round of radiation, but the bastard of a tumor was moving too fast for them to be able to start chemo. She never really had a chance to fight it.
My wife Diana was sitting with her in the hospital a couple of days before Ladonna went home for hospice care. LaDonna was in and out of consciousness on heavy doses of morphine. Diana heard her whispering something, leaned in, and realized she was praying in what sounded like Hebrew.
LaDonna had never learned Hebrew.
I’ve had what could euphemistically be called “issues” with my faith for months now, and this hasn’t helped them at all. But as angry as I am over her death, I’m choosing to focus on her life.
I only knew her for about five years, but it was a great friendship.
When we landed in Muskogee to stay, and LaDonna learned I played flute and was joining the praise and worship team, she was ecstatic. I had played in church for over fifteen years at that point, and had never seen someone so excited over another musician joining. She really could barely contain herself over the idea of playing duets with a flutist.
There’s an episode of M*A*S*H in season 8 called “Morale Victory,” where Major Winchester is working with a patient who has lost some motion in his hand. The soldier was a concert pianist before the war and thought his career is over. Winchester explains that he himself wanted to play classical, but he doesn’t have the gift. “I can play the notes, but I cannot make the music.”
That’s the way I felt when LaDonna and I played together.
I can play notes, and most of the time I can play the right ones.
She had more talent – more gift – more heart in her index finger than I have in total. She could play more songs from memory than I will ever forget.
We did several duets at First, and tried to work fun little things in during praise and worship time, or offertory. It was always a privilege to play with her, but more importantly, it was fun.
She accepted me as a musical equal, even though I never would be. If I needed some ideas on how to accompany a song that I didn’t know, she was quick with ideas, and they were always good ones. We’d occasionally riff off each other, and our discussions about other musicians were always a learning experience for me.
More than anything though, she was a Friend.
And now her earthly hands are still.
I will miss her easy smile, and her joyful laugh, and her friendship.
But most of all, I will miss her music.