14 Mar The Other Side
Yesterday was another experience I will never forget…
After the years I spent healing from West Nile Virus, Severe Mono, and many complications including a deadly infection and a blood clot in my lung, followed by two surgeries, a traumatic brain injury and neck injury from my car accident, I came full circle…
Healed and healthy, I walked through the front doors at the Summa Rehab Hospital in Akron, with my guitar- this time I was not coming in as a patient, I was coming as a musical healer.
Cheryl Henthorn, CEO of the Hospital was in attendance at the Summit County Traumatic Brain Injury Collaborative last fall where I spoke and performed my music. She had called to hire me to share my music with the patients at the hospital. Cheryl has the most kind, loving heart, and cares deeply about her patients.
We went room to room, and Cheryl would enter the patient’s room, introduce herself, and then introduce me, and ask if the patient would like me to play a song. As I stepped into each room, I felt as though I were on sacred ground. I would ask the patient his or her name, and ask about what brings them joy, what helps them to heal? As they spoke, and I looked into their eyes, I knew exactly where they were on their healing path. A song would rise up inside of me, and that was the one I would play and sing.
Magical, does not even come close to describing what happened….
Each person received exactly what he or she wanted and needed.
Family members cried as they watched the interaction between us, and they became part of the healing as well.
Laughter spilled out of us, and worry and fear were erased off of the faces of patients and family members.
The silly song “Hospital Gown” danced on the lips of an adorable elderly woman who cheerfully sang along with a radiant smile.
An eloquent man lay quietly on his side, enveloped by a brace that went all the way up to his chin. Barely able to move at all, I watched his eyes light up, as I began to sing the song I had chosen for him when he told me he loved to garden.
“There’s a garden, in my backyard, gives me everything I need. I wait all winter, for the springtime, where I can plant the seeds. And let the rain come, let the sunshine, see what I can grow. Hands in the earth I, tend my garden. That’s what feeds my soul.”
As I turned to go, something told me there was another song for him- “Spirit Speak to Me”- (This is about the hills in Pennsylvania where I grew up). I turned to him and his lovely wife and daughter and said, I would like to play you another song, it is about where I grew up, and for some reason, I think you will connect with it- it is about Pennsylvania- “That’s where we are from “ they exclaimed with delight! – How did you know? As I sang that song, all three in this beautiful family connected, -the daughter closing her eyes to take it all in, the mother crying, the husband in the hospital bed smiling.
Cheryl and I moved on, room-to-room, patient-to-patient, meeting families and loved ones, listening, singing, laughing, and sharing that beautiful human connection. I was asked to stay in the hallway as one patient was in isolation- and so from the hallway I sang- “ Let go”
His response was so incredible, as if every part of his body heard the message and responded. I felt as though my heart was being gently pulled into that room and to him, so I gloved up, and went in to talk with him- holding his hand, and encouraging him.
So many souls, each one unique, each one teaching me something, each one so grateful that I had come- and I so grateful to be there.
One more story- this time a patient who has been a radio announcer, and voiceover artist for most of his life. As his wife and family friend sat nearby, he told me about his love of music, and shared some poignant stories about his years in the radio. I could tell that this man had put his whole heart and soul into what he did and I wanted to honor him for being that voice over the airwaves that so many connected with.
And there it was-
That voice inside of me saying, write it now- RIGHT NOW! – Write a song for him and sing it for him now- So right there, on the spot, I began to sing the song “Radio Man”. As this song flowed out of me, – tears streamed down his face, and after the first verse, he looked at Cheryl and said, she better get paid extra for this…. And we all laughed.
After visiting with the patients and their families, Cheryl thanked me, and I said goodbye to everyone.
As I left the parking area, gentle tears fell from my eyes and my heart was so full- I realized that everything I had gone through all those years had taught me so many beautiful lessons. I was fully present for others facing their own healing journey. I had completely let go, and allowed Spirit to move through me and use me as a musical healer- no fear, no doubt- I was in that magical place of being wide open.
I knew each of the souls I had encountered could see that I understood. They connected with me because they trusted me- and I had the honor of connecting with them, and their beautiful spirits.
How blessed I am to be alive and healthy, and to be doing what is mine to do…..
on the other side of pain.