She was thirteen and just starting middle school. She felt out-of-place and disliked. It was plain to see that she had no friends. There was no one who would talk to her, no one who would eat with her during lunch time, no one who would walk with her to class, and no one who would sit with her on the bus. It seemed that no one liked her.
She struggled with homework and she had a difficult time when it came to taking tests. She felt like she couldn’t learn anything, couldn’t remember anything, and couldn’t do anything right. No one understood her, cared what happened to her, and it seemed as though no one even knew that she existed. And she felt sad as she wondered: Is this the way that it’s meant to be?
Then one day it happened. There was something new in her life, something exciting, something just for her.
This magnificent instrument entered her life and she began to learn how to play it. She practiced and practiced and then practiced some more. It wasn’t long before she became a member of the school orchestra. Yes, it was wonderful, and her world became a better place.
Her cello became her constant companion and her best friend. This friend was always there for her, understood her, and never let her down. When she played her cello, she could be herself and everything was all right.
She began to make friends at school – friends who played in the orchestra with her. These friends introduced her to more friends. Soon, friends were calling her at home, walking with her to class, eating lunch with her, and riding with her on the bus. And she knew that life was good. She was filled with happiness as she thought: Maybe this is the way that it’s meant to be!
Three years passed and she entered high school. All the old anxieties came rushing back to her. She was sure it would be the same thing all over again – no one to understand her, no one to care about her, and no friends except for her faithful cello.
She auditioned for and subsequently won a place in the concert orchestra, which was quite a feat for a freshman because freshmen rarely were allowed to play in the concert orchestra. Surely luck played a part in her placement. It never occurred to her that it was her talent which had secured her position.
Then something wonderful happened. The other kids told her that she was good; as a matter of fact, they said that she was really good. As before, she made new friends, and those friends introduced her to more friends.
By the time she was a junior, she was the first chair in the cello section – the chair reserved only for the best cellist. At last she was really someone, someone of status, someone who played an important part in the orchestra. And she knew that life was good. With a feeling of great joy and hope she marveled: Yes! Maybe this really is the way that it’s meant to be!
Then came her senior year, the year that every teenager awaits with eager anticipation. It was a wonderful year; indeed a memorable year, and at the final orchestra concert, she and her best friend – her beloved cello – played a solo. She played for an audience of 500 people or more. The piece she played was a difficult one, but she played it perfectly, and her best friend – her cello – did not let her down.
When she finished, there was silence. Oh no! she thought in dismay. They didn’t like it!
Then it happened – a thunderous applause! All those people were clapping for her! One by one, everyone in the auditorium stood up and applauded. She could hardly believe it – a standing ovation! This was a rare thing indeed! But it really was not that difficult to understand why this happened. The audience recognized the talent she had, they appreciated the beautiful way she had played, and they gave her the credit that she truly deserved.
She knew then that she had found her life’s work.
And finally she realized: I know this is the way that it’s meant to be.
* Author’s Note: At the present time (May of 2015), our youngest daughter Stephanie has just completed her first year of studies at the University of Wisconsin in Madison where she is pursuing her master’s degree in music performance on the cello. Her dream of being a professional cellist and some day performing with a symphony orchestra burns brightly.