The Spawn’s penultimate season of marching competition concluded today, as the Mondoville High Marching Band finished just outside the top 10 in the semistate contest. The kids tried hard, but it just wasn’t their day. So tonight it was my turn to wait at the high school and give her a ride home after they loaded out.
She was a little dispirited when she got to the car — not so much because of the loss per se, but because she genuinely enjoys the teamwork and the relationships that have developed over the two seasons she has marched. In fact, she wishes she had started earlier, but the idea that she’ll only have one more season with these teammates and friends left her kind of blue.
So on the way home, we talked a little about how the knowledge that these pleasures don’t last forever is part of why we treasure them, and that if they were permanent, we might take them for granted. I told her that was what Wallace Stevens had meant when he said “Death is the mother of beauty.”
But there’s a corollary to that, I said. Because those joys will fade, I said, we have to make sure we notice and savor them while we have them. That led me to tell her about Warren Zevon’s reminder to enjoy every sandwich.
It was dark as we neared the house. I parked the van and as we walked toward the house, the Spawn turned around and stepped into my arms. I hugged her, and she said, “I’m always going to have you, aren’t I?”
“Well, I’ll always be your dad,” I said.
“Just lie to me,” she said. “Just promise.”
And I thought of the only Robert Ruark book I’ve ever read. “I won’t die during a marching competition, OK? I promise.”
It seemed a reasonable compromise.