When my quartet, the Owla Quartet first arrived at NIU to study with the Vermeer, Marc told the other members of his quartet that he wanted to be our “quartet dad”, the point person to deal with our stuff. Maybe he knew that, being a member of a ¾ female household, he had the necessary skills to deal with a 4/4 female string quartet. So, by his own words, he became my cello dad. There was never any adjustment period – he was exactly the right teacher for me. I am a lucky girl because all of my teachers have been exactly whom I have needed exactly at the time I needed them. But, being Marc’s girl forever and ever, loosing him is really like loosing family.
I had not seen him in person in seven years (what happened seven years ago? Oh – the Vermeer retired, he moved to the east coast and I had twins). The last time I saw him was at the last Vermeer Quartet concert at the Pease Auditorium in Ypsilanti - I was about 4 months pregnant and already bigger than a mountain. I remember exactly what I said: “I’m really scared about what’s going to happen when these guys show up”. He just looked at me from the other side of his red sports car, winced and said “they’ll outnumber you 3 to 2”. He didn’t have a solution for me. I didn’t have a solution. And I had no idea that would be the last time getting a bear hug from him.
We spoke on the phone and wrote e-mail. Lately I had started feeling a very strong sense of urgency about going to see him – you know, if the mountain doesn’t go to Muhammad… I needed to show him my new cello. And, I had dreams of having my kids meet him. Basically I just needed to see him. I think I realized at some point that bringing the kids along would make it more complicated, and so we had come to an agreement of sorts, that I would go wherever he was, sometime in June (Virginia or Tanglewood is where he said he would be). In early April I got an e-mail from him in response to some bowing question and I thought “oh dear, he sounds uncharacteristically off – I need to cheer him up with something funny”. So I composed a response in my head that went something like “you taught me so well that I came up with the right answer to my question even before you told me what it was”. I guess I can take solace in that fact, even though I never got to send that letter. And I guess the lesson I am meant to learn is
Carpe diem. Seize the day. No one lives forever. Marc died on April 8, 2014.