Friday, February 3, 2012
So I finally invested in a iPad for work just before New Year's. Man, has it already paid dividends.
On Tuesday, I saw my patient I told you about last week, whose dad was buried on Thursday. My patient, "C", fell asleep while I played classic rock for him on my classical guitar. On Tuesday, I found out he never awoke, and that on Tuesday, he was still with us, but only had "hours to days" left.
I went to see him.
Alone in his room, with the light shining in from the window across his massive chest, "C" struggled to breathe. He was sedated, but not peaceful, and I could immediately tell he was not comfortable. I told him that I was back to share some of the songs we sang together last Thursday, and I began with a more subdued version of The Eagles' "Take It Easy" (I can do a mean Glenn Frey, but stink up Don Henley... too high for me). I then went into Jimmy Buffet's "Margaritaville," and while I sang about easy going beach-inspired times, C's wife and daughter came in the room. This was the first time we met, so I introduced myself and explained how we worked together on Thursday. I asked if C or the family had any favorite classic rock songs they'd like to hear, and the wife said, "Tom Petty's "Won't Back Down" was C's theme song."
Enter the iPad.
I haul around probably a good 25 pounds of paper music with me in my rolling cart, and it is an infinitesimal sliver of the music that has been recorded and released over the past 60 years. However, I have this great app called Ultimate Guitar.com which I pay $7.99 a year to have access to an unbelievably in-depth library of songs from every genre known to man, woman, and child.
So... I pull out my handy dandy iPad, and within a few seconds, I'm playing the chord progression to "Won't Back Down" silently humming the melody to myself for review. I bust through the song, and while I'm singing, C's other daughter and her boyfriend enter the room.
"That was dad's theme song," the younger daughter who just entered reflectively says. The wife is tearful at this point, as is the older sister, but they are good tears, because under the tears was a smile of gratitude that C got to hear his theme song one more time.
Then C's wife asks if I know any hymns.
I say, "I sure do, but with your permission, may I share one of my own? I think it would be just perfect." She brightens at the idea, and I sing, "His Love Is Everlasting." Remember, this is THE hymn written through me years before entering music therapy that was given to me as a gift for those passing over. I sing my song, and the younger daughter looks at me and says, "You really wrote that? All by your self?"
Sometimes, a compliment is funny when it is a little too incredulous. ;-) It was really sweet, though. I replied, "Well, it wasn't so much that I wrote it as it was written through me. In 1999 when this song was born, I didn't write hymns, or lyrics at all for that matter. I was so stunned when it came outta me that I signed it and dated it; I had a gut feeling it was something special for later on..."
Then the mom says, "Your song reminds me of "By your Side" by Tenth Avenue North. It's like Jesus is talking right to you. That was C's favorite song." I had never heard of it, so I went to write myself a note in my trusty iPad, when I had this bold idea. You see, they didn't have a portable music player, so C wasn't gonna get to hear this tune again.
I opened up You Tube, searched for the tune, and BOOM, there's a video of the song. The best part? the video is made by a fan since no official video was ever produced by the band. Wanna guess how many hits it had received?
Over 4 million 3 hundred thousand.
I officially live under a rock.
Where have I been?
That is the nature of popular music. You simply cannot stay on top of every genre out there.
So, like John Cusack in "Say Anything," I turned up my iPad, held it out in front of me, and hit play on the video... and Tenth Avenue North FILLED THE ROOM.
When the song finished (and it is an AWESOME SONG, by the way as you can see below), tears and smiles filled the room.
"I am SO HAPPY C got to hear that song one more time. Thank you."
C passed away the following day... yesterday.
This is for C...
There was no going home and learning it and coming back. That was it. THE moment... and thanks to my iPad, that moment was captured, and will never be forgotten by that family, much the way I will never forget that Enya was playing for my dad when he went to heaven.
Work has been intense lately, but to be a part of such a tender moment is such an honor, I can't even begin to put words to it. I'm not gonna lie, it's not easy for me, and I certainly couldn't handle more than the 10 hours a week I put in currently in such a setting. However, some of those 10 hours each week are the holiest, most sacred hours of my life. They are exactly what this long journey of faith, loss, and music have uniquely prepared me for. I think I lost over 12 family and close friends by the time I was 25... probably a bit more than most guys my age in suburban america... and remember, the very vision I had when I heard Enya playing for my dad was, "Man, if I could be the soundtrack of someone's transformation from life to afterlife, THAT would be the highest use of my God-given gifts."
This is my ministry. And I am so lucky and blessed to see it unfold in front of me. I am so lucky.