Saturday, August 29, 2009


“This is the saddest day of my life.” He says still draped in sleep from the night before as he slumps into a chair beside me. “It’s the last day of my band.”

“No it isn’t.” I reassure him knowing how much effort went into arranging tonight’s upcoming farewell concert. “Everyone will be home for Christmas break and you’ll do a show then.” Tyler is not reassured, visible loss in his eyes.

I think back to his first public performance, terrified and frozen; barely able to swallow much less sing. His “band” has changed several times since then, different names, different members, but this group, From Dark to Dawn known locally as FDTD, has been together for a long time. They write all of their own music and it never ceases to amaze me that the crowd sings along as if the music was on the radio daily.

When my boys were young they played sports and belonging to a ‘team” provided that sort of camaraderie that seems part of healthy development; all for one and one for all. As parents we are programmed for this. Athletics are a comfortable, predicable part of parenting. I never realized how sportsmanship is in the player, not the arena.

The musicians are a unique crowd and not one that we as parents are necessarily prepared for. Their alternative hair and dress raises eyebrows and makes most parents uncomfortable. People stereotype the group making the assumption that they abuse drugs and alcohol and nothing could be further from the truth.

The band experience has been incredible.

There is no rule book, no guideline to follow and no coach calling the plays. The band is self governing, bringing everything from within. The commitment and dedication to their music and to the group is not mandated, they just bring it themselves...consistently.

There are several bands in town, our small CT town seems to be the new Seattle, and most often they will play shows that feature four or five bands playing in order of seniority. The most profound difference between athletics and music is the lack of competition. During the shows, they roadie for each other, stage hand for each other and always have each others backs. They share equipment, work the light and sound for each other and when a guitar string breaks in the middle of a song, it will be a musician from another band jumping up and handing in his guitar.

These kids, all long hair and alternative, have a deep-rooted sense of honor. They have visible, genuine love for each other and that is what makes it all work. They do not have a showcase in the foyer of the high school that features their State Championship trophies. They are not sponsored and funded through the town. They do not have their equipment provided or facilities for practice or performance. Coordinating shows means renting a building, making tickets, selling tickets, hauling equipment etc.

And yet, with a last minute, late in the summer idea for a final show, in spite of the fact that many of their peers have already left for college, they fill the house.

Tyler’s band is the featured band playing last, as they are the one dis-banding for college. The crowd is ready and the energy high. They play most of their music, brand new songs and those where the audience swells with sound as they sing along. Finally near the end, Tyler asks everyone to sit. He and Mike grab acoustic guitars and the lights dim.

The boys sit on the stage together, Tyler sweetly singing a song Mike wrote for his girl. Their fans hold up lighters and cell phones in tribute. These two have been friends since elementary school and Mike has nearly lived at my house over the last year. Tyler’s decision to attend a local art collage leaves him saying good-bye to his friends, several of whom are going to the same college four hours away.

The love in the air is tangible, palpable and my heart aches with bittersweet pride. I scramble home after the last song to heat up a mountain of food that I prepared earlier, knowing the bands will inevitably show up at our house. They do and it is just like the usual routine; no one speaking about the finality until the end.

Matt is the first to leave and he comes into the kitchen and stands before me. “Well, this is it.” He says, looking twelve-years-old, “I’m leaving tomorrow.” He will be Mike’s roommate in Vermont. He gives me a big hug and I tell him that we love him and will miss him. I offer a few motherly words of advice for good measure and ask him if he has an address yet. “I’ll probably need to send cookies.” I tell him and he quickly scribbles his dorm address on a post-it note, placing it on my fridge.

Watching these boys end this chapter to begin the next is not easy. I know they will all find their way and continue to play music in spite of their distance, but FDTD is irreplaceable.

“We booked a Christmas show.” Tyler tells me later smiling.

“I knew you would.” I tell him.


Deb Shucka said...

What a sweet post, and I love the pics. So much feeling for this ending that is a beginning for the boys, and for you. May the memories of all the gifts the music has brought to your lives help you through this time.

Carrie Wilson Link said...

Oh, Nancy, this made me cry! And ditto Deb!

Jerri said...

"sportsmanship is in the player, not the arena."

Simply brilliant. Brilliant.

Blessings to all for the journey ahead. And thank you for this beautiful piece.

kario said...

What a tremendous effort they have put into this band! Nothing that your son believes in with such passion could ever be "over." I hope he comes to trust that.

Congratulations! said...


This is such a beautiful post. Such an amazing tribute to the goodness of young adults. Thank you! I love it.