I’m sorry I never gave you a name


Mike Brace

Tara and me at the only football game of 2020 we performed at

I remember when I first decided to adopt you. I thought that I was meant to play the clarinet for the rest of my life until you showed up. When I held you for the first time, I couldn’t believe how perfectly you fit into my hands, and as cliché as it sounds, my sixth-grade self believed that we were destined to meet.

Even when I pressed your buttons, you never complained; instead, you taught me what powerful, raw emotion sounded like. On adoption day, you stood out among all the other options. You were the most polished, and to me, you were perfect.

Over time, we learned each other’s flaws—working together to make our way up to the top. Together, it seemed we were unstoppable. 

I wonder where we went wrong.

One day, you refused to make a sound. I spent hours asking what was wrong, trying to fix you, and attempting to begin the journey to recovery. I lost confidence in us. 

Sometimes, you would make your pain so obvious, you would shriek so loudly that others turned their heads in our direction. Although, instead of hearing those screams for what they really were, I made excuses for your tantrums based on reeds, mouthpieces, and ligatures. I thought about giving up—abandoning you to the hands of another who would treat you better. 

Every time I picked you up to charge ahead into battle, I was immediately attacked with anxiety and doubted we would ever have the talent to make it to the end. I questioned if our sound together could ever be in tune, and I prayed that my wrong notes wouldn’t set off your bomb and doom us all. 

How irrational and unnecessary these fears were, considering that the head of the army selected us to lead the battalion. If we didn’t charge ahead together, who would? 

As my musical comrades grew closer with their own passions, each of their instruments received a name. Tara’s flute radiated the name Silvia and Maddy’s flute was given the name Florence; Ian’s oboe was bestowed with the name Mariah after the queen Mariah Carey.

But you, my talented companion, never received the glory and ownership of a name. For that, I am sorry. Perhaps it was a matter of never finding a name that quite fit. Jerry, Al, and Kenny all seemed too basic to describe what you are capable of. After all, the names of instruments, as strange as it sounds, should come with time. 

Tara’s flute radiated the name Silvia and Maddy’s flute was given the name Florence; Ian’s oboe was bestowed with the name Mariah after the queen Mariah Carey.”

Even through the awkward stages of middle school, the tortures of Band Camp, and the thrill of marching in Disney World, the perfect name has yet to present itself. I’m sorry; the problem was never you. With all of your squeals and protests, you were trying to tell me that while everything may appear perfect and pristine on the outside, pieces of you were broken within. 

Know that I’m paying attention now. While we may stumble, I will do my best to take the fall. Turns out, you don’t need a name to be incredibly special to me.