April 22, 1999
Marlin Owen, conductor
Last February I was walking down the hall to my class and I saw Missy sitting in front of her practice room diligently whittling away on her reeds. Her knives and tools were spread around her and there were cane shavings strewn all over the floor.
Missy glanced up and saw me and said, "Oh, hi Mr. Owen." Those four words just sparkled. Missy's greetings communicated more true delight and spontaneous joy than any other student that I have ever encountered. Our music department has been privileged to experience daily from amazing buoyant greetings that so affirmed your presence and importance to her. Greetings that instantly erased any immediate concerns, fears, or anxiety about messy floors or whatever else you were caring about at that moment.
After my class I walked back to my office and as you would expect, the purple carpet where she had set up shop was spotless and that night in orchestra on a newly shaped reed she played with great beauty. So in the future when you walk down the hall and see a friend and get ready to give the usual perfunctory "hey" think of Missy. Her daily greetings to all of us were radiant and joyous gifts.
Last November the orchestra gave a children's concert. It was one of our very best children's concerts. All our demonstrations were working fantastically. There is a very fine line in children's concerts between incredible wonder and utter disaster. It was an exhilarating learning experience and the children's enthusiasm and reactions were immediate.
At one point I was talking about our new podium which has a protective guardrail around the back and I asked what is this railing for. They shouted, "To keep the conductor from falling into the pit!" I said, "Well, that's true, but there's another important reason. Sometimes the orchestra plays so fabulously and the music is so exciting that I have to grab onto something." Well, 400 kids erupted in instantaneous laughter. But a split second before the very first child laughed I heard Missy already howling.
Our music department had the daily privilege to hear Missy's wonderfully contagious, childlike, imaginative laugh. It was a memorable laugh. So when we see a conductor's railing, let's think of Missy. We'll grab onto that railing and we'll hang on tight to her memory.
We'll remember Missy's great joy in practicing and performing beautiful music. We'll remember her amazing sense of humor. We'll remember and be inspired by the way Missy used her talents and gifts with such childlike freedom and gracious sensitivity. I made a joke. Four hundred children immediately howled in laughter. Missy beat them all. She laughed first and I bet she laughed the loudest.
"I tell you the truth unless you change and become like a little child you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."
God took Missy, His beautiful child, hand in hand from our world into His radiant glorious presence.
He left us all with both more sorrow and yet more joy than we can understand.