Letter: Always there

By on September 16, 2010

Bruce Conley and I played “Taps” together for over 25 years on Memorial Day in Elburn. We rarely planned before the ceremony. We both just showed up and played our parts.

Bruce and I could usually see each other across the cemetery. We would simply nod at each other and begin. I would play first and then Bruce would play the haunting “echo.”

The last year we played together, I didn’t see Bruce standing in his usual spot. I remember thinking to myself, “I wonder if Bruce is here?”

I played the first three notes and waited. Sure enough, Bruce’s sparkling trumpet answered mine.

Bruce had decided to play from a concealed spot that year, but he didn’t bother to tell me in advance. Bruce’s “echo” was hidden from the crowd, and the effect was mesmerizing.

It was also a moment of profound surprise and reassurance to me. I couldn’t see Bruce, but he still was there.

As I pen this now, I think Bruce had a greater plan in mind for me that day. He was preparing me for the time that he wouldn’t be there, and letting me know that I could always find him in the invisible.

I haven’t been playing my trumpet as much as I used to, but I treasure the memories of playing “Taps” together with Bruce. And, I will always hear Bruce playing “echo” in my mind.

Dr. Jim Willey

About Elburn Herald

The Elburn Herald has been serving the Kaneland communities since 1908. To reach our editor, Keith Beebe, email info@elburnherald.com, or call (630) 365-6446, ext. 105. To reach our owner/publisher, Ryan Wells, email RyanWells@elburnherald.com, or call (630) 365-6446, ext. 107.

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