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I went to a summer enrichment camp the summer before my Grade 11 year: one month, with 50 of the best students all across the nation.
The counselors in charge of us were men of intellect, men who held great expectations for us. One of them, Frederic, was a music-lover. And what he wanted was for us to learn a four-part song in no less than three one-hour sessions. He wanted us to sing, choir-style.
Not all of us have had experience. Not all of us had been in a choir. Some of us had no clue what to do. I was one of them. Piano, yes. Singing? Not so much… But Frederic had faith that every single one of us would be able to do it.
He chose the song “Lean On Me” by Bill Withers. He had faith that Lilly would be able to just sight-read it on the piano without any hiccups. He had faith that when he told the tenors to sing D-C-D-C that they would do it. He had faith that the altos would sing D-C-D-E and not screw up the last note, that one varying note the tenors were belting out right beside us.
After three days, we all entered through the automatic doors of a local hospital in the big city. We’d be singing right smack in the middle of the foyer, where all the patients could look out at us from their balconies.
Lilly shuffled in her piano chair. We shuffled into place. Frederic didn’t shuffle. He strode right to his rightful spot in front of us. And we began.
It was on of those times when I felt like I had been struck by a miracle. The song simply came together. Four different harmonies combined into one, our lilting notes and magnificent inflections resounding in the hollow room, bouncing off the beige walls and Renaissance tributes.
We all looked up towards Frederic, his hand guiding us in meter, in volume, in passion. The sopranos cooed out the melody; the bass hummed the beat and foundation that the altos and tenors sang upon, building up the sound, the richness of the web of music of seemingly disparate notes.
The patients milled out onto the balconies, accompanied by nurses, some in wheelchairs, some in walkers, all standing still listening to what our magic had created, what Frederic had created.
When the last notes finally stretched out before the silence of the foyer, as we held that one last middle C, I found myself surrounded by 49 of my very best friends. It didn’t matter that there were always expectations put on us, that we all had to win, or succeed, that the pressure was what drove us forward more often than the right reasons should have. We had faith, that as long as we were together, we could lean on each other, for support, for love, for help. We had faith that no matter what, we could do anything as a whole, and that we could do anything alone, with our collective hearts and minds held close.
It’s been more than a year and two months since that day in the hospital where our triumph meant much more to us, and me, than it probably should have. It’s been a year and two months since I’ve realized that with them beside me, all in separate school and cities, that I could pursue my very own dreams, with faith.