Last Friday I went to my children’s school’s last assembly of the year. I was a guest of honour; there were no other parents present. After the announcements, the prizes and a tearful retirement parade, the principal said that to the crowd that there was another special guest present. Then she turned to me. I felt the tears well up in my eyes. I had donated my family piano to the school several months ago and the children were going to sing a special song accompanied by the piano to say thank you.

This piano had been in my life for as long as I can remember. My grandfather had given it to my mother as a wedding gift. It had sat in my house for the last few years but I never felt that it was really mine. It held many memories of my life, as it sat, silent in my living room, gathering dust. This piano that I listened to for years as my mother practiced on it while I was a child, this piano that somehow brought beauty into a traumatic home, this piano that I tried to avoid playing for many years…. my mother’s piano, became for a moment, my piano.

When the day came that the school took it away, I felt a new, clear space in the house. I had not realised that the memories were embedded still in that piano for me. And now, with a few hundred happy faces staring up at me (“she’s the one that gave the school the piano!”) I felt a mixture of relief, pride, sadness and joy. Knowing that now this piano would become alive, bringing joy to many children, teachers and parents, set something free inside of me. It was my piano, if only for a moment, and then it was gone.

That is what this work is about. Recognising the story, honouring the story, feeling the sadness, but then letting it go. Transforming the pain into something of use, into something beautiful. Transforming it into something that will touch others, something that we can begin to value in ourselves as having worth. Being of worth. Worthwhile. The piano was my issue, but it is gone now, and the pain I unconsciously held onto is not gone, but transformed.