Cody’s Story as told to Victoria Ternes
Pathway Through Transitions
I thought that college would be like any other school. But what I had instead is probably one of the most mortifying stories that anyone could think of. Losing someone is a very hard transition for anyone, but having it happen during a crucial transition of someone’s life is absolutely devastating. Especially if it’s one of your best friends.
One of my first memories was the layout of the first house I lived in. I lived here for the first six months of my life. Then, I moved to North Baltimore, Ohio. This is where I grew up, this is where I became who I am today. The first day of preschool I remember holding onto my dad’s leg and refusing to let go. I just did not want him to leave me in this strange place. In preschool, I was a little bit of a devious child. Whenever the teacher was around, I was a perfect angel, but when at recess, I would hit people; and even once I threw a girl’s shoe onto the roof of the school.
Once I was in high school, I started to realize what I wanted to do with my life. Since fifth grade, I had the same band director. He started to let me help with the middle school band. I always enjoyed helping them because they were always so eager to learn. There was one student who really inspired me to start thinking about being an educator. He played the alto saxophone. We needed a baritone saxophone for the band, so I started giving him lessons on the baritone saxophone, and he caught on very quickly. This was such a gratifying moment for me, knowing that I really helped him to become a better musician. He is now attending Bowling Green State University for music education, also. I am happy that I helped to light that fire within him and he is now so passionate about music, just as I am.
Senior year my decision to become an educator became even more clear. My English teacher helped me to see how great being an educator can really be. She was always so excited to teach us and spread her love of the subject with her students. Seeing someone getting so excited about a subject many hate showed me that I can try to spread the joy of music to others.
My dad was a funny guy. He had been bald since 25, had false teeth, big ears, and always wore a scarf. He was a car salesman at Chevrolet until he retired. One of my favorite things to do with him was to sit on the porch and watch the storms roll in. This started with his dad. They too would sit out on the porch and do the same. One day I saw him sitting out there, and I went out and asked him what he was doing. He said, “oh, just watching the storms come in,” and from there on out we always did this together. One of my favorite memories of my dad was when he would come and watch me at track practice. My dad had a large green van he would always drive, and a one day a teammate of mine said, “Here comes Cody’s dad in his creeper van.” Sometimes he would just ride down the street in his electric scooter to come watch me practice. That is true dedication. He helped me to become the person I am today, he forced me to become more outgoing and the social person I am now.
My mom and I found out just how sick he was my senior year of high school. He had heart problems since I was very young. We went to the doctor and they told us, “He either had two weeks to live or two years.” Well, he got to see me graduate and even my first performance in the Ohio Northern Marching band. He passed away the October shortly after this game. If I would have known it was going to happen then, I would have never gone to college. I would have stayed home and spent every second I could with him. After he passed, I realized just how much he was prevalent in my life. I miss being able to talk to him every day and get advice from him. I miss his sense of humor. There is not a day that passes that I do not think about or miss him. I still have many of his scarves and they give me something that will always make me think of him. But what helped me most through these difficult times was music.
Music has always been a big influencer in my life. That is one of the reasons I came to college to become a music educator. Music is therapeutic, it can help many people with coping and is an easy way for people to express how they feel. It is personally an out for me. When I am upset and having a down day or just want to get my spirits up, I go on YouTube and search for music to listen to. My dream job would be to one day work in a hospital and share the joy of music with people and allow them to feel the relief that can come from the music. It is truly how amazing music really is. My love of music has become even more strong as I have gone through college and the different classes I have had to take.
In your first years in music education, you are forced to think about if you may have to fight for your job once you are working in a school district. Often when school funding is cut, or levies do not pass, people often look at the arts as the first thing to cut and get rid of. We had to be taught to stand up and fight for why we think music is an important course and why it is necessary for the education system. I believe that the arts are one of the last places that funding should be cut. Music is always there to strengthen you; it is never there to hinder you. All music can do is make you stronger and stronger. You cannot say this about many different subjects. These classes taught me to stand up for what I believe in and for what I think is right and wrong.
My proudest moment with music, though, is with my senior recital. This was one of the biggest challenges thus far in my life, but also one of the most gratifying. To prepare for this, you must practice, and once you are done practicing, practice some more. I used the penny game in my practicing sessions. This is where you have pennies on a music stand and when you get part of the music right, you move a penny across the stand. But the catch is if you do something wrong, you have to move all the pennies back to the beginning side of the stand and start all over again. This caused me to focus and become more prepared for my recital. I practiced around eleven hours a week on average. But after these long practicing sessions, I would often just go home and relax. I would talk to my mom and tell her how my day was and I would often play video games. My personal favorites are Grand Theft Auto, Minecraft, and recently Lego Harry Potter.
The day of my senior recital, I woke up excited for the day ahead of me. I could not wait to see all the people in the audience just there to listen to the music I was going to play. I picked the music based on the pieces I had played in the past, and then also I picked out a piece that I dedicated to my dad. When I walked out on the stage, I had one thought and one thought only… Why is it so HOT!?!?! But once I started playing, all other thoughts left my mind and I was just invested in what I was playing. Afterward, everyone clapped and came to hug me and tell me how proud they were of me. This is when I realized how proud I was of myself for all the hard work and time I had put into preparation for this event.
I do not know where my life is going to take me, but that is okay. My goal right now is one thing — to graduate! I am nervous to go out in the real world. It is going to be a big life change, even bigger than the transition from high school to college. This is one of the first times in my life that I am no longer going to be a student. But instead, I am going to be in charge of students. This is going to be such a big change, and it is scary to me because one of my biggest fears, in general, is change. But I know in the end everything is going to work out and God will take me where I need to be in life.
This story originally appeared in Facing Our Futures Beyond High School, a publication of The Facing Project that was organized by Ohio Northern University in Ada, Ohio.