Once during a particularly intense week of rehearsals and extra concerts, my husband Matt commented, “This week feels like one long day.” I was instantly reminded of a student’s reaction to the suggested title of “A Night on Saturn” for his weekly composition assignment. He told me (reprimanded me would be more like it) that there would be no difference between a night on Saturn and a day on Saturn, because the planet’s rings do not allow one to see the night sky anyway. I had nothing to say to this. I missed out completely on all the normal fascination with outer space most kids have. Instead, I was looking at the ground, planting things in the backyard, foreshadowing the gardens of my adult life.

But perhaps I should have been paying more attention. It’s something to ponder, as we come to the end of the year: Was 2018 just one long day (or night?) on Saturn, unrecognizable from any other year? Or was it, in its own way, precious, full of memorable moments?

To both questions: Yes.

There is much about our middle-aged lives that is much like life on Saturn, one day bleeding into the next, predictable and structured. We practice, rehearse, teach, perform. We feed our cats and water our garden. We have dinner with friends and meet colleagues for coffee. We selfishly guard free evenings together with excuses and/or blatant lies (“Oh, we are so sorry, but the cats have to be bathed that evening.”).

A day on Saturn? For sure.

But, of course, that isn’t the whole truth of the last year, not even close. In May, we spent a week driving from Portland to San Francisco down the coast and through the Redwoods. One night we stayed in a house outside Coos Bay, Oregon along a river and under a waterfall. There was a sauna in the backyard and the bed hung by ropes from the ceiling. We had two light-filled, golden days in Taos in October, the hours long and deliciously empty. And then there was a night back in June when I sat in an Adirondack chair in the garden, the daily chore of watering done, while Matt cooked steaks on the grill and I drank a glass of wine and watched the hummingbirds dart from flower to flower.

While 2018 saw a lot of notes fly by, there were countless heart-stopping musical moments as well. July included Matt conducting a choral festival that culminated in a powerful performance of Robert Cohen’s Alzheimer’s Stories. The work was not simply a moving piece of music, it was a lesson in how live and love one another. “Sing anything!” it commanded to us. “Love and music are the last to go.”

There were visits from nephews and sisters; former students drop in regularly. We read books and watch movies; we swim laps, go to yoga classes and the gym. I planted eleven tomato plants in the garden last spring, not understanding that this was, by any reckoning, ambitious. Unless, of course, I was planning on running a farm stand. Today—December 23rd—Matt turns 50. We are slowly coming to the understanding that we are no longer that “dynamic young couple.”

“Miss Amy, are you a grandmother?” a student asked me just last week. I stared at him, speechless. And then I remembered: my grandmother was a grandmother when she was exactly my age and there were no teenage brides in the family. When I reported this realization to Matt later, he said, “Wow. That is the sexiest thing you’ve ever said to me.”

We grow older, yes, but it doesn’t grow old. Life may be much like a day on Saturn, but it never stops being precious.

Sing anything! Love and music are the last to go.

Happy holidays to you, dear readers and may you have a blessed 2019, full of memorable moments.