The Gift of Goodbye, by M. Kay Kleven

After growing up under the harsh glare and hand of her substance-abusing mother, eighteen-year-old Anna Louise Armstrong boards a bus that will take her from Wisteria, Kansas to New York City to fulfill her dream of becoming a songwriter and concert pianist, playing in one of New York’s finest concert halls.

As she steps off the bus in New York and into the Blue Sky Apartments, her life begins to change—from meeting her neighbor Chase Monroe the first day, to being hired at the Piano Emporium by the kind and caring Mr. Cutler, to taking piano lessons at The School of Musical Arts under the gentle guidance of Ms. Thompson, to playing duets with her best friend’s brother, Blake, who changed her world when she heard him play at his college two years earlier. Anna Louise finds herself caring for Chase, but awed by Blake’s brilliance on the piano.

Then her father emails her that her mother is dying. He needs her help—her sister is pregnant and her brother is in high school. She returns to Wisteria, but her mother never utters a word to Anna Louise while they’re together. Anna Louise finds herself writing a song for her mother called “The Gift of Goodbye.” As she plays the music at the funeral, she realizes her mother has never heard her play in life, only in death. Soon after her mother’s funeral, Anna Louise returns to New York—to the job and people who give her life meaning, a piano career beyond her wildest dreams, and especially to love.