This morning Sasha had his first piano lesson since his relapse in August 2011. Sasha, his teacher Suzie, and I were all apprehensive. None of us knew how much memory or facility he had lost. So she started him out with some scales, the circle of fifths, some easy pattern exercises. His fingering was fine and it sounded pretty good.

Sasha said he wanted to try the Clementi piece – a relatively complex work he had begun practicing a few weeks before he fell ill. Suzie and I wanted him to work up to it gradually. It might be crushing to him if he were unable play it at all. But he asked again, and since had played everything else correctly, Suzie said ok. He played first the right hand, a little tentatively, then the left, and then both hands together, and he remembered it almost perfectly. It sounded like he had been away from the piano for eight months, but that was it — it could not have been any better.  It was rusty, a little uneven in tempo, and utterly, sublimely beautiful.

If anything in this world could show me the possibility that Sasha might recover completely from this terrible illness, this was it. And then it hit me, and I began to choke up. An unfamiliar feeling that pierced the armor of my realism. Hope.