Gifts given and gifts taken away

There are gifts given and gifts taken away.  And Jacob’s abilities could be described as nothing less than a gift.   He was a violin virtuoso.  Or at least, that was the word the university professor of violin pedagogy fumbled with over and over again as she ushered the eight-year-old Jacob out of her office and cornered his parents.  He was immediately enrolled in an advanced curriculum, taken out of public school, and given a special tutor.

Years passed quickly in this atypical childhood.  International tours, solo concerts, guest professorships.  Jacob lived up to his moniker.  Mastering the classics, creating his own new ones, and trailblazing a path forward.

Dreams and realities

Entering his third decade, every dream of Jacob’s had been realized.  A household name inside and out of the classical music world, he was surrounded by a bevy of handlers.  Agents, promoters, schedulers, accountants, and personal assistants.  His wealth had grown exponentially.

His wife traveled on the private jet beside him to each venue, the wonder and joy of a new life forming inside her belly.

Jacob had everything.  Everything except the passion that he had heretofore taken for granted.  At the height of his career, Jacob no longer felt the undying joy for the violin.  He was starting to loathe the excruciatingly long day to day practice, and he was exhausted by waking up every morning in a different city with a new group of people to entertain.

He was burned out.

Staring across the aisle at his beloved, he watched as she bent feverishly over the daily planner trying to find a spare moment to sightsee in Venice before the next concert.

He made a decision.

It was time to retire.  He had more than enough money, but his time with his wife and soon to be son would be limited.

There are gifts given and gifts taken away.

Jacob hung up his bow strings.


It’s not that Jacob never played again.  But his drive and exacting nature were squashed by retirement.  Left to his own devices, his form became a touch sloppy, his notes a little less stringent.

The shock eventually wore off, and the international outcry died down.  The classical world had lost one of its superstars.  One couldn’t help but think that in a fell swoop, the greatest music of a century was wiped out before even being written.

Jacob, however, was oblivious to such ephemeral worries.  Swathed in the quiet triumph of fatherhood, he hugged his baby son tightly and rejoiced in the women who had given him so much.

There are gifts given and gifts taken away.

The nobility of art and music, the cost of one man’s bliss.

Gifts given

Jacob could no longer hear the drone of sirens as he focused on the inconceivable words the emergency room doctor was nonchalantly spouting at him.  His son’s shortness of breath was due to a rare congenital heart defect.  The damage had grown since infancy, and now the effects were obvious.

Although previously fatal, Dr. Joseph, the house cardiovascular surgeon had recently perfected a new technique that likely would save the poor child’s life.

On the day of the surgery, violin virtuoso stood face to face with surgical virtuoso.  Both young men in their thirties.  Both pioneers in their respective fields.

Twelve hours later an exhausted Dr. Joseph entered the waiting room and gave Jacob the great news.  His son was going to be OK.

Gifts taken away

Weeks later, his son recovered, Jacob arrived at the office for the first post-hospital check.  When the doctor entered there examining room, Jacob’s mouth fell open.  It was Dr. Broderick, Dr. Josephs partner.

Inexplicably, Dr. Joseph decided to hang up his stethoscope and retire from medicine.  Jacob’s son was the last child he ever would operate on.  The last child to undergo the pioneering procedure.

There are gifts given and gifts taken away.


Jacob returned home that afternoon and locked himself in the little office that housed all his instruments.  It was said that over the next few years, he created the music that would be studied by the greats in universities and concert halls over the next couple of centuries.

Jacob’s son grew into a healthy teenager and eventually an adult.  He much preferred the drums to his father’s more refined violin.

And Dr. Joseph.  Sadly.

Dr. Joseph remained retired and never operated on a single patient again.

Gifts given, and gifts taken away.

“DocG” is a physician who blogs at DiverseFI.

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