Tuesday, December 20, 2011

December 20, 2011: Tuesday's Tales from The Front...


I'm liking this idea of sharing a little of the beauty and magic that I get to be a part of each day in my hospital work, because for so many, music therapy is such a new shape on the peg board.  There is an entire team of caregivers at the hospital that create such moments with their patients, and it is an honor to be part of their team.

Today, I walked into "E's" room.  It is one of the few "semi-private" rooms in the hospital.  That means there are two patients in one room, and my patient was in bed #2.  Bed #1 was occupied by a large gentleman who struggling to breathe.  He was laboring with his breath and clearly not at ease.  The bad news?  I wasn't there to treat him.  The good news?  I'd end up treating him anyway, since the music I was about to share with his roommate would inevitably be shared with him as well!

As I introduced myself to E, his wife burst out, "TIM!  You spoke at the Cancer Patient Dinner last year!  We LOVED your speech!  Wow, you're here to treat my E?"

This was a good start!  :-)  If we could all be introduced with such fanfare!  I went to get my guitar and songbooks from the hall since I knew we'd be gettin' some music on in here.

I could detect that E was having trouble with his speech.  His cancer had metastasized to his brain, and it seemed to be affecting his expressive language center.  However, his receptive language seemed fully intact.  E's wife opted to climb into bed with him and snuggle, giving me the chair.  It was so cute, I asked her for her phone so I could snap a picture of them together.

They are a couple of great faith, and had a boombox in the room which they regularly played praise and worship music on, so when it came time for A) church Christmas carols or B) pop Christmas Carols, they went for A!  The nice thing about carols is there are kids pop carols, adult pop carols, church carols, fast carols, slow carols, funny carols, contemplative carols... something for (almost?) everyone.

As I played, the tears began to f-l-o-w out of E and his wife.  They were good tears, tears of joy for having such beauty (the music) present in live form in their room at this moment of their long journey.  There were also tears of sadness.  This was most likely E's final Christmas; he was going home on hospice later today.  I sang "Oh Holy Night," "Silent Night" and "Little Drummer Boy," and after the third song, I just blurted out something resembling the following...

You know, the nice thing about music?  you don't need words to express your feelings while listening.  I have a 4 month old at home.  He doesn't have language or words, but man, can he communicate!  When he is happy, the world knows he is happy... no words needed.  He simply radiates and beams happiness from his whole being.  I can use words with him, but they are just "mwah mwah mwah" to him.  He doesn't need words from me, either. We communicate just fine.

To which E's wife looks up at E, reaches up and caresses his cheek and says glowing with love, "You hear that E?  That was meant for you!"

E was obviously a strong man in his life; you can see it in his eyes, face, and body.  It dawned on me that E was NOT OKAY with not having words... right up until this moment.  Again, the tears just flowed.  His face relaxed and smiled, his shoulders rested back just a little further into his bed, as if for just that second, all that was wrong with his (in)ability to speak was right again.

My whole day was worth that moment.

That is what I strive for with each day here on this planet.

You know who else never needed words to communicate with the world?


No words necessary.

She captured the world with her eyes, and thanks to digital photography, she still captures those who meet her for the first time through "film."  My God, am I grateful for my little Canon PowerShot SD1100 IS.  It is beat to you-know-what, but it has captured our angel forever in its lens.

Final unrelated note...

www.alisartworld.com is officially live, with her second Episode!  Please go check it out!  Ali is having a lot of fun with this, as am I, except for the fact that editing video is a ________ eh hem... joy!

God night.


  1. OK, I'm experiencing serious cookie envy over here - those gingerbread people look awesome!

    Thanks so much for sharing your stories with us - it's so neat to see God working in and through you, and the way you are blessing people with your gift of music.

    Merry Christmas to all the Ringgolds from our Team!!

    Love from TX,
    Laura (for Team A)

  2. You have been given such a gift from God! Thank you for sharing it with all your patients and with us! Merry Christmas and thank you again for reminding me of what a treasure life is!


  3. Really really enjoy reading about your therapy with the patients. Thx! Kim

  4. Merry Christmas to you and your family.
    Love, peace and joy!
    From England,