I miss my baby girl.
God, she’s not even a baby anymore. She’s three years old today. I fidget impatiently as the musicians around me shuffle their sheet music while preparing for tonight’s performance. Today is supposed to be a joyful day of celebration with Barbie dolls and pink balloons, but instead, the tuning of my colleagues’ instruments has me well on my way to a migraine. The pre-show butterflies I feel in my tummy every year on this particular day have turned to cement.
Focus, I tell myself. These people are looking to you for direction and leadership. You can’t be distracted, not even today.
The buzzing crowd is the winner of my attention tonight. Hands down, concertmaster or not, my mind isn’t on the orchestra tonight. It’s on my daughter.
Scanning the audience like I do every year on this date, I pray I’ll see him sitting out there in the dimly lit auditorium, with my daughter swinging her little feet back and forth in the seat next to him.
It’s a dream I’ve been having every night for three years. I’m sitting on stage in the Lincoln Center, consumed by the music and focused on leading my string section, when out of the corner of my eye, I see King sitting in the third row with our beautiful raven-haired daughter, Juliette, next to him. The room blurs, and my violin slides from my hands, clattering onto the floor in slow motion as I stand. The members of the orchestra stop playing in waves, beginning with the musicians closest to me, until only the percussion people are left clanking and rattling.
A hush falls over the room when I call out her name.
I bolt backstage, but when I arrive at their row, the seats have been abandoned. I turn to look up the aisle. No one is there, but there are hundreds of glaring eyes fixated on me. I glance back at the vacant seats in disbelief and see something glimmering where Juliette sat. If the lights hadn’t been turned up in the house because of my unheard of behavior, I would never have seen it. I push past patrons decked out in sequins, fur stoles and tuxedos and lurch for the eye-catching sparkle. It’s a charm bracelet with a tiny diamond violin, a music note, and three circular charms with the letters H, K and J stamped on them. My charm bracelet. King gave it to me in the hospital after I had our baby three years ago, before he took her and disappeared.