Winter came yesterday, laying down 12 inches of snow between 10 am and 6 pm. We spent all day wondering if the Leelanau Children's Choir Madrigal Concert scheduled for last night would be cancelled. Mrs. Bell held off making a decision until the last minute, and by 7:35pm the snow had stopped and we were playing to a packed house.
For the first time in many years, I have only one kid singing in the choir. This morning Anna has that dreamy after-concert attitude about her, as if life is too much to believe. The kids performed well. The weather outside made the concert's setting, a 14th century castle complete with a feast of boar's head and jesters, a little closer to reality as we had all struggled to get there, and felt truly sheltered from the cold.
Before the encore we all sang "Happy Birthday" to Stephanie Pentiuk, who turned sixteen last night. She was a new choir member at age eight when she turned suddenly sickly and was diagnosed with an enlarged heart. She spent some weeks on death's door before receiving a heart transplant. Stephanie spent many more months recovering at the Mayo Clinic before returning home in time to sit in the audience, wearing a surgical mask to ward off germs, at the last choir concert of that year. Shelagh and Stephanie's sister Anna sang a duet of The Coventry Carol. It was the firat time that I had heard Shelagh sing a solo, and I kept looking around to see whose voice that was.
The kids had been so glum at their first concert that season, as they had expected to sing to Stephanie but she hadn't shown. With Stephanie back in the house it was truly a party, one of the best Madrigal concerts ever.
Today Stephanie is just one of the kids. It was startling to remember back to those days not so many Christmases ago when it was a miracle that she could walk into the room. Life is too much to believe.