Homecoming #24….a surreal moment

They say (whoever “they” are I really don’t know) that there are moments in your life when you catch a glimpse of Heaven. When you are shown, for just a brief moment, all the good you have done and are given a reminder that it has all been worth it. Tonight I had one of those moments.

It was another UD football game day. Another Homecoming. I’ve lost count of the number of homecomings we’ve had in the rain–it’s almost an expectation. 152 alumni signed up but only about 100 actually took the field. That’s ok…frankly if I could have stayed home on this wet and raw day I would have. Regardless, we threw together a stand alone alumni band tune in about 15 minutes and then quickly ran through the UD tunes we would play combined with the University band.  And that was that.  For the alumni it’s not about band anymore. It’s about getting together again, tailgating, telling stories, and yes, doing your best to throw down a tune and being able to laugh about it! And that is what today turned into…fairly quickly thanks to Mother Nature.

Halftime was fine……it was misting so no electronics on the sideline: the University band was a throw back to 1995! And they did a good performance. Alumni Band was…well, it wasn’t “Buenos Aires” from 1997 or 2002 but it was certainly an attempt at it. The combined tunes were perfect.

In short the game was no different than any other. The team played like Delaware of old and EARNED today’s win over Towson! The defense grew up in the last 2 minutes of the game.  The stadium — albeit not very full — was as loud at times as it once was in years past. (Maybe, just maybe the team is finally at the beginning of another journey to be the Delaware us old farts remember.)

Post Game: The weather cooperated and we decided to do the full main show so the alumni could see what they built. The band was on fire. It was a fantastic performance. But there was something different about this post game from all the other homecoming post games since I’ve been here.  We did not do an encore tune that allowed the alumni to exit the stands and come down onto the field.  Instead, we simply finished the show and I asked the UDMB to set up “In My Life.” At that point I invited the alumni down to the field.

And that’s when the oddest thing I’ve ever experienced happened. I was on top of the podium facing the stands and I looked down to the mouse hole in the hedge and watched each and every band alumni enter the field. Each person had to duck down in order to avoid hitting their head on the box seats above them. And as each person came through the hole between the hedges they would raise their head, smile from ear to ear, briefly look left and right for their friends, and smile bigger as they ran off to catch up with them in the masses of band members behind me.

It was real and surreal at the same time.

As I watched I started to well up. This does not happen often with me but at that moment, as I watched well over 400 people come through the hedges, I was overcome with emotion. They were not looking up at me–not in the least. None of us made eye contact. They were looking for others. And for a moment I thought, “Is this what Heaven will be? Is this what I’ll see one day? All the people whose lives crossed my path running out onto a football field hoping to find the people they love, that if not for band they never would have known?”

It was not an ego moment. It was a feeling that overwhelmed me to the core. For but a moment I was given a gift. A gift that said, “Realize for once that what you do matters. Not as an artist, but as a human being. You bring other people together to be something bigger than themselves through something called ‘band.’ Know it. Own it. Keep doing it.”

For but a brief moment I was given a gift this evening–a gift that made me take a quick inventory of my life. And I am forever grateful.