I don’t dread April yet, but this day always makes me cry. On April 20, 2006 I lost two friends in a plane crash on their way back from a rehearsal.
Robert and Chris both did their undergraduate music degrees the same years my brother and I were in college. They were studying opera performance from our father. My brother and I sang with both in choirs, many times I was next to Robert because we towered over others and blocked their view if we were up front. Robert even offered to my accompanist when I took my own voice lessons. When I’d work backstage at the university theater, one or both of them would be on stage. I still remember a time when Robert’s villain costume was locked up over Spring Break in his dorm room and he needed to wear black on stage. Realizing this mid-show shortly before he had to go on stage and me being in all black to do scene changes, I gave him my pants and took his so he could go on stage and sing. He teased and implied all kinds of things to make my father laugh.
When it came time to do their masters, Robert lead the way and found the Music School at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. Chris auditioned and made it in as well. When the educators learned they both came from my father’s studio, they invited my dad out to teach a seminar. He wow’d everyone so much, my father switched universities. When my dad got Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and had to undergo chemo, Chris and Robert would take turns – one holding my father’s arm and walking him through the school to the car, the other having a good hug/cry/pep-talk with my mother where she waited to pick him up.
I can honestly say, their deaths devastated every member of my family.
Every year this day, the families of all the victims get together for dinner. I did not know Garth, Georgina, or Zach, but I have had the privilege of getting to know their families since. It’s been eleven years and I’m still numb from the loss.