The Unexpected Present

Yuri Notes: Wake Me Up From This Dream

Yuri Turchyn Violinist 2024

I am sleepwalking and still reeling from having to write the words that Yuri Turchyn departed this world peacefully in my arms on Sunday, April 14, 2024. Time of departure: 15:05. Sail away.

It was a challenging week after his fall on Sunday night, before the solar eclipse. Staff members and aides admonished him for not using the call bell and scolded him like a child. It wasn’t deliberate—he told me he had a hallucination. He dreamed I was coming to take him home, and he had to get dressed.

After that fall, his efforts in physical therapy, recovery, and coming home were pretty much ended. Everything became hard. We watched the solar eclipse, but as the days stretched into the week and finally the weekend, he became tired, very tired. I made every effort to be with him that week. On Sunday, I arrived for an early afternoon lunch. He was alert and lucid. His eyes shined as always when I walked into his room. I brought cheesecake, and we chatted quietly. His voice was just above a whisper.

The TCM channel was on, and a Bette Davis movie, Mr. Skeffington, started. I asked him if it was a good movie. He nodded. We loved the old flicks. Aside from jazz clubs and music performances, we would see independent and art house films at film festivals, screenings, and retrospectives. It was a favorite ritual. When I crawled into the bed and held him, his body relaxed against mine, and I wrapped my arm around his shoulder just as I would normally. It wasn’t long before I felt the rhythm of his life slow down to an end-of-the-line stillness. It was peaceful. His heart stopped beating.

For the past three years, many doctors and medical practitioners have treated him as a foregone conclusion– his age and the onset of very serious health conditions seemed insurmountable. Others were amazed at his survival. They said he was a fighter. Yuri’s heart was big and full of kindness and generosity. It was initially strong and kept him alive, and his brave one kidney remained functional and was still working to the very end.

His physical strength, endurance, and penchant for returning from several near-death experiences all came from his years as a player. He had to be in top form, as live performances demanded. His brain arranged and orchestrated the moments when the rest of his system needed to coordinate for another comeback. It happened numerous times, but when the final curtain call was to be the last, Yuri took his bow (the one he pointed at me and forever claimed my heart) and, with self-assurance, elegantly took his leave–stage left. He was a miracle man, a music man, and the love of my life… c’est la vie.

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