I took E to her end-of-term piano recital on Saturday.  I studied the program and knew it was coming up. I didn’t think twice about it. Even as they walked up to the front, the two sisters, and sat down at the bench, I was fine; not the kind of fine where I have to ask myself first, am I fine? is this ok for me? but the kind of fine where I’m fine because it hasn’t crossed my mind not to be.

One was tall with serious eyes and dark hair pulled back in a bun, wearing dark blue pants. The younger one had shorter, thick hair, sprung out about her head and topped with a bow. She was wearing a denim dress with a crinoline skirt, flared out at the knee. They bowed to the audience and I smiled. I thought how lovely they were. It was a genuine, happy thought. And then suddenly, really without any warning, I was stifling sobs. I didn’t even think the grief, didn’t realize it until it was streaming down my face. It was shocking: my body heaved with the effort not to cry out loud. I didn’t want E to look back at me and see me crying. Her turn was coming up and seeing me upset would upset her. I pulled in my rib cage – hard – and stared at the mountains behind the glass as these two beautiful sisters played ‘Heart and Soul’ and willed myself to stop crying.

The song was mercifully short. They stood to bow again, and holding hands they walked back to their seats, smiling conspiratorially, pleased with themselves. In those few minutes, I saw everything I had lost, E had lost, Anja had lost. Heart and soul. Much heavier words than the piano suggested.