The decision to go didn’t come to me until I shut the car door. We were supposed be on a walk, after all. Joe was gone to New York, and I was going to spend those four days walking everywhere with the kids and the stroller – I’d get tanner, and lose more weight, and look amazing when he got home, and the kids would be happy and relaxed. But Luke begged me to drive to Target instead of walking. We had the car, after all. I wasn’t used to that. Sitting in the car, then, the thought came to me that we could drive over to the music store first and talk to the owner.
She was pleasant, the woman who owned the place. She taught lessons. She had pianos, sold them. Grand pianos. New pianos. Top of the line digital pianos. I told her I had seen her store, found her website, knew she taught lessons to kids, knew she sold pianos. I wanted more information. It doesn’t hurt to ask.
Seth ran to the grand piano in the front, poising his fingers over the keys. I held my breath until she gave him a nod. “He is very excited about taking lessons. He really seems to have a natural knack for it” I bragged. Luke said “Me too!” and began to slowly rock the infant carrier like a metronome on the slowest beat. Back and forth. Back and forth.
Before I knew it, we had covered the exorbitant (for me) cost of an annual piano lesson contract (yes that is per person, not per family) and she was holding up a model showing the inner workings of a grand piano. How long the sound board was, or something. How every piano must compare itself to the master piano; the grand piano. Sure, there are pianos made from plastic inside. She sold a couple of those, for the less discerning ear. She invited me to try two pianos in her store for comparison. “I think this one sounds better?” I asked. “I’m not telling you.” she smiled, slyly. I tried them both again. “I’m pretty sure I like this one better. Is it the one with wood inside?” “Well, what do you think?” she toyed. “Um…I….” “Yes, it’s the one with wood inside.” I beamed, proud of myself. And how much does it cost? She glided across the store like a ballroom dancer, reaching for the brochure on the one I liked and fairly sang out “threeeeee”
“Thousand?” I finished. She nodded.
Luke was rocking the baby faster, uncomfortably fast – like the time marked on a piece of sheet music that I could never quite catch up with – Yes, I’d had lessons growing up. I could read sheet music, at least back then. But I was never that good. I remembered playing a piece painfully slow; trying, trying to catch up to the speed required by those two numbers on the first bar, by the ticking of the metronome. Trying to measure up where it counts. “Luke, stop rocking her! You’re going too fast!” I snapped. “They really have been very well behaved” the woman reassured me, and it helped. She was saying she could work with them. They behaved well enough for her. We weren’t a lost cause where learning piano was concerned. But knowing I’d taken a bit of her time and my “good behavior” window with the kids was beginning to close, I tried to wrap things up. Clarify all I’d heard. Shut out all distractions. “Mommy, your phone is ringing!” Luke interrupted. “I know that, Luke. I’m ignoring it because I’m talking, here.”
Walking out, I saw I’d missed a call from my mom. But I owed the kids Target, and the baby needed a nap as soon as we got home. I texted Joe, still high on some silly cloud “I found the perfect piano for us! Only $3,400!” He quipped back “Do you want to save for a house or get a piano this year?” And this wasn’t news, but it deflated me. What a fool I’d been, going in and talking to this woman like I could afford lessons and a piano. Who did I think I was? I’m a stay-home mom in a one-car family. I’d always dreamed we’d bring music to our children as it was given me. An invaluable gift. Dreamed I’d have a piano for them to play. For me to play again, too. Maybe it would even stick with one of them. Now those dreams seemed so far off suddenly, well they were unattainable now. These days, single-income families must make sacrifices. Culture has adjusted to the two-income model and there are very few who can live comfortably on one salary. We know we make sacrifices, like brand label clothes or a house in the hills – but is music, too, only for the elite now?
Hours later, I finally had time to call my mom back. I hadn’t even heard her message. “Amy, call me when you get a chance!” I knew when she said that, there was news. Lately, I’m always afraid it’s Gamma. “Hi Mom!” I said, that anxious strain in my voice. What was this news? Was it bad? “I had this idea, Amy. I’ve been praying about it, asking God if this is really something I should do or was I racing ahead of him? But I couldn’t shake it, this idea. – I’ve been looking for something for you on Craigslist – well, see I’ve been calling some people, and I talked to a lady… she has a piano…”
Tears welled up in my eyes as I let her words sink into my skin. A laugh welled up in my chest, a joyful, incredulous, this-is-God’s-doing laugh. My mom had no idea I’d been thinking about a piano again. She had no idea I was planning to visit that store. “I don’t know what else to say, Amy” she told me “God wants you to have a piano!” How many times have I told myself to wait for God’s timing? How many times have you heard that?
I had gone into this first time alone in Texas with a great deal of fear. I didn’t anticipate leaving the comfort of my neighborhood while Joe was gone, yet suddenly those fears melted and I was back in the car typing in the across-town address of a woman with whom my mom had had two long-distance conversations from Virginia. The woman and her husband were Baylor people, too. She was wonderfully nice, Mom said. And as I tested each piano key with increasing joy, and the woman entertained the boys with yogurt, grapes, and an invitation to play in her backyard, I knew my mom was right – not just about the nice lady, and the good piano, but I was filled with the understanding that the timing was indeed, right. I walked out of the woman’s home a half hour later – just hours since my great disappointment at the piano store – the owner of a beautiful piano. The piano movers had an opening the first thing next morning and I went to bed dreaming dreams I knew would come true!
In the morning, Luke asked me what time it was. 7:30. “Only an hour and a half until the piano comes!” And his joy matched mine.
There are times I didn’t wait for God’s timing. I’ve suffered the consequences, those times. But when it’s right – there is nothing that can stop it from happening. My heart is full of grace and love joy and gratitude, for both my mom and for a God that cared enough to find me a piano.