I think I have the greatest job in the world.
I get to sit across from people—people lost in profound, life-altering pain—and listen carefully to every word they say as they share their stories of life, loss, and memories. I get to take those stories and translate them into a different wavelength—a wavelength that, when they hear it, allows them to begin to heal, breathe from a deeper place, and start to know that even this most painful moment in their lives can eventually offer up some peace. And that “wavelength” is the wavelength of song.
It is beyond my capability to fully explain or understand, but I was born with an ability to translate intense emotions into the kind of sound vibrations that heal—vibrations that take the unspeakable and give it a shape, a feel, and a direction in which the story is turned into lyrics, music, and melody. Combined, they create much more than just a song—they create a gentle, yet powerful, way for fami-lies to honor their child’s life by turning their stories into music.
This month, I’m sharing with you the work I’ve done with four families, four stories, four songs. These are not just stories of loss, but of families rebuilding their lives from the ground-floor up—daring to invite intimacy and rebirth where at first there was only emptiness and hope-lessness.
Each story is unique and amazing. I invite you to walk right into each one and, hopefully, find some of your own story inside. Here’s an overview of each story and how I created each song. After, you will hear the stories from the parents themselves, and we include a link to each song so you may listen to it yourself.
Alex Haws — SONG CREATED: “FLY”
Aimee is an incredible mother who, along with her husband Brian, spent three years sleeping in hospital rooms to make sure a parent was always there with their son, Alex, every night. Aimee called me one day to say that Alex had very little time left. She wanted a song for Alex’s memorial service, but she also wondered, “Might it be possible for you to write this song in time for Alex to hear it himself?” I wanted to fulfill that huge request and hoped that, if I did the interview immediately and listened very closely with my heart to what was said in-between the lines, I would be able to create a song that would bring Alex comfort as he approached the end of his life. I am happy to say that I was able to complete and record that song, entitled Fly, in an MP3 format that Aimee was able to play for Alex on her computer.
I wept composing Alex’s song, Fly, but I also felt an incredible sense of “upliftment.” Two days after I sent the MP3, Aimee and Brian received the actual CD. Aimee opened the door to the delivery man, held her finished CD in one hand, and, by Alex’s bedside, held his hand in her other hand. She looked him in the eye, told him it was okay, and right then and there, with his parent’s song to him safely in her hands, Alex left this world behind.
Sarah Connor — SONG CREATED: “SARAH’S SONG”
John and Bonnie Connor called me for an entirely different reason—to have me compose a song for the renewal of their wedding vows. In the course of the song interview, I learned about their daughter, Sarah, who had died on the day she was born. They spoke of what a turning point that was in their shared lives.
I did compose the anniversary song that they asked for; however, in the aftermath of finishing that song, another song just “came through.” It was Sarah’s Song, and it came through as if Sarah were singing it to her parents, offering loving reassurance to them and her two sisters, Lily and Jasmine, who John and Bonnie had subsequently adopted. John and Bonnie were astonished! I think it’s safe to say that Sarah’s Song opened up a new place in their lives and hearts for celebration and healing and made the renewal of their wedding vows even sweeter.
Esther Anaïs Rabold — SONG CREATED: “THE BLESSING”
Jennifer Rabold came to me after the painful loss of her un-born child. The experience had left her with a profound sense of loss, eroded her confidence in her ability to create a family, and eaten away at the intimacy she had relied upon and shared with her husband, Dan.
She was deeply shaken, felt overwhelmed and alone with her feelings, and was struggling in her attempts to move forward and be-gin thinking again about inviting yet another new life into the family. The song I created for her seven years ago became known throughout the United States and other countries, providing powerful support and a watershed of tears of relief and release for countless other women who have similarly suffered alone, inside themselves, with the loss of a child they have never met, yet have deeply known and loved.
Wyatt Prince — SONG CREATED: “FOREVER GROWING”
Last, there is the Prince family, a family who continues to inspire me! They lost their own little prince when he was four months old. As I seem to have inexplicably been able to do in so many in-stances, after talking with the Princes, I felt as if I could sense or hear the message Wyatt wanted his family to hear. As they faced the ten-year anniversary of Wyatt’s death, I sat down and wrote Forever Growing, a beautiful message from Wyatt to his family.
A ll four families have stepped forward to share their stories and songs with you because they know the lives of their children—brief but breathtakingly beautiful—have touched and changed forever not only their lives, but the lives of others, stretching their views of the world and opening them anew to all things possible.
The journeys I have taken with these four families have changed and humbled me, causing me to laugh and cry with them. And the roads we walked together to bring these songs to life are, and shall remain, a part of me always.Tags: grief, hope