Six months ago, this drum was the bane of my existence. Noah had borrowed it for the summer so that he could take it to drum camp. Noah being Noah, he immediately started drumming on it at home. It was loud, so so loud. And to top things off, he would often take his drum or his drum pad, put it on a stand, and drum in his bathroom. Weird, right?
One day, I found him in his bathroom, no shirt on, headphones in his ears, phone on the counter, drumsticks in his hand, banging away as he watched himself. I asked him about the peculiar habit (at least the drumming in front of the mirror part) and he told me drummers practice in front of the mirror so they can work on their technique, studying stick height, hand placement, etc. Noah always had a method to his madness, even if the point was often lost on others.
We set rules to protect the neighbors, and me. We chose dedicated hours when he was allowed to bang on his drum to his heart’s content with no comment from me. The rest of the time, he’d have to stick to his much-quieter drum pad. Let’s just say he never missed the window.
As planned, Noah took the drum with him to Fresno that week. It was in the trunk of his car on the day of the accident. Noah’s car was completely destroyed. There was very little of it that was recognizable in the end, or so I’m told.
That week, while we were at the hospital, my brother and his friend went to the tow yard where they’d taken Noah’s car and retrieved his personal belongings. Miraculously, with the exception of a small break in the case, the drum was one of the only things to survive, undamaged.
The day of the funeral, we made a memorial table for Noah with a few of his few prized possessions and items that might help people understand his spirit:
- The first-place trophy his East Coast marching band family sent him from their last night of competition together;
- his favorite pair of drumsticks;
- his indoor percussion metals;
- his indoor percussion jacket;
- his Dairy Queen hat;
- a Rubiks cube;
- his custom-made Xymox drum pad;
- and the surviving drum.
Over the past few months, we’ve thought a lot about ways to keep his memory alive around us. We’ve thought about what to keep of Noah’s and what seems somewhat impractical to hang onto. The drum is the first of Noah’s things that we’ve done anything with.
Just before Thanksgiving I found the courage to lug the drum and it’s broken case into a local glass shop. I told them about the coffee table idea, which came from my husband. They helped me pick the right glass. When I opened up the case for them to measure the drum, it was the first time I’d seen it since the day of the funeral. As I knelt down over it with the man and his tape measure, my eyes welled with tears as I noticed the tiny dents around the edges were Noah played his heart out, where he filled his soul with every beat and left the mark of his drumsticks behind.
It’s what we have left. Little reminders of Noah’s joy, of his love for drumming, and our love for him.
I will never forget you, son. I will find a way to help others do the same. Every day.