This post was originally posted August 31, 2012
The first thing that I saw when we pulled into the parking lot were the news vans. This is when something akin to panic began to surface. I took several deep breaths and tried to calm my nerves. We entered the pavilion and asked if we could do a practice run. We did, and it went well. Then there was nothing to do for the next 45 minutes but wait.
I pulled my hair up since the wind was causing it to go in my mouth when I sang, and then we waited.
Drank a bottle of water and popped a cough drop into my mouth, and then we waited.
Visited with a few friends, and then we waited.
Fixed my lipstick, and then we waited.
Finally the Mayor asked us if we were ready, we said yes, chatted a bit and then took our seats for everything to begin.
I remember everything and nothing. There are such clear images in my head of it happening but yet it was a blur.
How do you capture in your mind a moment so significant in your life? It’s nearly impossible. I clearly remember looking at the audience thinking, “don’t look at them you will get nervous.” I have a brief image of my mom crying. I have a brief image of seeing my Pastor in the back with his hand over his heart. I remember noticing that my best friend was not in her seat and thought, “she must be somewhere else videoing.” I have a vague recollection of thinking of technique, tighten your stomach, don’t forget to breath, pace yourself.
Then it was over.
Months of preparing, a week of nerves, and within five minutes it was finished. We sat down and the rest of the service continued. Not a moment to sigh in relief or hug my fellow musician, to say “we did it!” But I am glad that we didn’t have that moment. I was dreading that moment. That after the fact I would feel that I should be more excited. Or that it would be a let down of emotion after so much build up. What that did was cause me to sit calmly, remember why we were there, and relax for the first time in days.
Afterward many people came up to us and told us how beautiful we sounded. I was glad that they were moved, but the most surprising emotion that I had was relief. I honestly didn’t care anymore if I hit all the right notes or if I had good timing, I was simply relieved that I had done it.
It was such an honor to sing the National Anthem, it was an honor to sing it for such a time, helping to memorialize those we lost and comfort those affected by a shooting in our city a year ago. I was honored to be able to do this in such a forum, and proud of myself for having the courage to do it.
So how does it feel after the bucket list item is finished? It feels good. Its not an exhilarating high, but a relief, a peace, and calm, a satisfaction of knowing I have accomplished one of my life’s dreams.