A Friend's Tribute
by: Britt Johnson

"You have to have a strong sense in yourself, because the viola never gets the melody." I've had this quote in my AIM profile since the day I read it in a newspaper article on Sarah's memorial page. Following that quote is a link to Sarah's memorial page. Both of these have changed fonts, styles, and colors, but never have they left the top of my profile. After the link is the word Always… no explanation, nothing. Just Always…

No, that doesn't mean the link will always be there, it doesn't have to be there for me to remember talking for hours about orchestra, Orlando Bloom's hotness, or boys. All of those things are in my head, and in my heart, and that's where they'll stay. The math equations or literary techniques might slip away, but honestly, how could anyone forget such a wonderful person like Sarah?

I met Sarah on the second day of her freshman year in orchestra. We were stand buddies from day one until the day she became first chair at graduation. Being stand buddies for two years gave us many opportunities to cause havoc, mainly aimed at sabotaging rehearsal.

We'd alternate playing notes in Lucia Silla or play everything in third position, and one of the more popular games of last year-playing with the music upside down. You would think that first stand violists would be serious and play all the time, and not goof off. Apparently you never saw us, nor have you heard any viola jokes. We didn't stop there; the peg game was always a hit. At least it got us out of a few measures of practice so we could retune our violas. That game only got out of our row once; it wasn't welcomed too much by the other violists, or the seconds, for that matter. But it made us laugh, and that's what counts.

...by the end of the song I realized that Sarah had scanned new lines into my part that was a combination of the three other parts mixed up

The viola may never get the melody but no one ever said anything about the violist.


There were days when I would go to orchestra and my viola wouldn't be in its case, or a bow would be missing. Sarah would always be sitting next to me with this huge smile on her face that she couldn't hide. The funniest thing she did in orchestra last year was during the preparation of our viola quartet for the Evening of Elegance. We routinely asked for rehearsal time during class so we could "work on the quartet", meaning we needed to work on it, but we also didn't really want to be in class playing. So during one of our frequent rehearsals, we began playing and I soon realized something was wrong. It took me a while to figure it out but by the end of the song I realized that when Sarah had taken her music home to make a copy for me, she had scanned new lines into my part that was a combination of the three other parts mixed up. Let's just say there wasn't really any rehearsing after that, just a whole bunch of laughing and goofing off.

I'll never forget the day I got a phone call from Sarah during the first week of college. She was exploding from excitement about some new nail polish pens she had just gotten. She called me and told me to check my email because she was sending me some pictures.

I checked my email, and she did send me some pictures…of her nails with dotted flowers all over them. I've never seen nor heard someone get so excited about nail polish before and all I could do was laugh. I got a phone call from Sarah probably every other day for those first few weeks of school and we'd talk about orchestra, and her new job and how people said they got high on Sweet-n-Low.

I guess I never realized how much Sarah was there for me, even if she didn't know it. Every day that I sat next to her in orchestra, I was more confident in my playing because she was sitting next to me, not caring if I played my F-sharp a little on the sharp side, or not at all. We'd laugh about it, "promise" not to do it again, and think about doing it again to see how Mr. V would react. Even when I lost the one thing I thought I had won, she was there waiting for me with a card signed by every violist in the orchestra, a diary, and a Chipotle's coupon in her hand and saying something like, "We know you deserved it, and it sucks".

She probably didn't know it but she was there when I went to college, calling me a few times a week just to say hi. What she didn't know is how much easier she made it for me to adjust to the college life.

Whether she was talking about her nail polish or her job, she always had some hilarious story to tell me about good old Westerville. I never realized it until now, but I looked to her like the little sister I never had. We talked about the boys and the makeup, and everything in between.

Even now, she is with me. Hard times come and go, but they go so much easier with Sarah singing Dory's solo with a funny face, running off with your bow, or praising Pirates of the Caribbean to no end.

Always will her memory be in my heart, Always will I defend fellow violists from the wrath of the violins, Always will I remember the impact she had on me and so many others; Always will I remember that Orlando is cuter than Johnny; Always will I remember our friendship; and Always will I remember to not break my g-strings, keep my pegs in their holes, and check to make sure my music is in the right order before I begin playing.

The viola may never get the melody but no one ever said anything about the violist. Always…