By: Laura Sanscartier
I need to write you a letter of thanks. Though we’ve swapped emails for years with snarky jokes and little life updates, it’s time I thanked you. Truly.
I was a soprano who smoked constantly, swore all the time, and wore inappropriate clothing to my auditions. Yet you saw someone who could do something, who could make something of herself. You saw me.
You put up with a lot. I asked too many questions, I spoke with my horrible Boston accent (which I love, and will continue to use), and I drove you crazy because you still thought I sang like an angel. You even said so a few times.
Then my insanity crept in. There was no denying it. I missed rehearsals because of therapy appointments, I missed concerts because I was locked up in a psych ward AGAIN. I was at rehearsals but sick as a dog because of new medications. I would come to your office and talk to you. And all the while you kept a calm, easy manner, telling me it would be ok, and could I do this solo for you in a few weeks?
I need to thank you John, because you took me in stride. You loved me through encouraging rubs of the back, through silly jokes, through Christmas presents meant to make me a better singer. You scared the crap out of me at 20 years old when you had me standing in the middle of a master class, at least 120 TFCers in front of me, and you sat down at the piano and raised my piece an entire whole step: “THAT’S where you should be singing” you shouted over the keyboard.
I need to thank you for your constant faith. I came to you onstage with some inane question about a score once (I had been in the chorus about 3 years), and you said “Oh for heaven’s sake, will you just go to New York and be famous already? Go to New York, Laura.” Of course I couldn’t; this brain of mine just wouldn’t let me stray that far from family and friends and emergency rooms where they knew me already. Yet you kept giving me solos and encouraging me.
Advance another 15 years, and I was still in the chorus, still going to the hospital. You were still seeing the cuts and bruises on my arms, and just giving me more to sing, knowing it would help.
At your retirement, I thanked you for giving me 2nd and 5th and 12th chances, when a lot of other people would have turned away from me. You said “We all feel like that sometimes, Laura, but that doesn’t mean we stop helping each other.” I’ll never forget it, John. I can’t. You’ve been dead 3 months now, and I still weep each time I think that you’re gone. No more jokes. No more emails. No more random solos, or bits of singing wisdom, or encouragement.
I need to thank you, John. For so much. And I will never get the chance. I love you.