Looking back it felt like it happened yesterday but glancing over my scribbling on my makeshift notes, I realized it was December 2010. Time on earth was drawing near the end for my patient I was visiting in hospice.
Lying still in his bed, above him, he saw something to his left. He reached out to touch it. I asked him what it was, he said it was an angel.
“There’s not much time left,” he said.
I wondered, “do you see a rainbow?” The frail man said yes.
I took this opportunity to thank him for everything he taught me. Our weekly visits became for me, enlightening. I became his student. I learned more about life and myself each time we met.
My friend replied, “My pleasure. You were ready and I was there.”
When I met him, his assets were few. A bed in a facility where the homeless were arriving in poor health for a haven of hope. A place where I reluctantly arrived to help him.
I first met him when I received my orders as a massage therapist to help ease his anxiety. I came prepared with lotion and music but soon learned my journey here was to learn more about life. And me.
A hint of a rich music background roused my curiosity so I gently asked what did he did in his lifetime.
This enriching soul was a classically trained musician as a principal player for a symphony. It was a short-lived moment due to alcoholism then homelessness. I paused and reflected what an opportunity that must have been. I sensed a great ability he possessed and it was noticed.
My notes revealed more…Grayish look with a delicate state of being. His eye brow keeping tempo with the mellow tone of the music that only he heard. His delicate fingers mimicking pushing down the trumpet keys. Tears in his eyes, raising his eyebrows, fluttering his fingers with weakness as he lifts his chin to smile. Gesturing to angels above him, commenting how special the harmony is.
I leaned in with grit and grace to listen carefully to the meaning of his words, grasping any last words of wisdom.
“This special edge of this music… such sweetness…”
“Be strong” he quietly offers me.
I looked forward to our weekly meetings. But not at first.
The building was intimidating when I walked in. There were rules for visitors to follow. ‘Do not give money to anyone’.. a warning sign in the elevator. I sensed peace within the walls only if everyone cooperated. One time I was warned to stand back when a man was upset, a group of employees surrounding him, calming him a special way that they were taught. I was bringing massage to calm anxiety to a patient but who was going to calm me?
He spoke a language of music I didn’t understand. When I listened, I learned there was meaning and purpose between the music notes, it was called rest. To appreciate the in-between, the present moment.
It opened up my music appreciation and bought music I wouldn’t have otherwise.
I anticipated our visits with delight to share a new CD I recently bought. We would sit on the edge of the bed and listen. I’d watch intently the movement of his hands in tune with the melody. My music elder would point out the intensity of a note that would be difficult to achieve. He opened up my awareness to the delicate sounds of soul that would change my heart forever.
I noticed his passion has never left him. It was a hard life after he put his trumpet down but the passion never left his heart and soul, lasting forever. Until the last day.
What I remember the most?
Everyone is born with an unique set of talents. It never leaves us.
It may show up differently for some. It doesn’t matter how it appears.
You are born with them and you die with them.
Everything else that comes in-between depends on how you use them.
And sometimes the awareness comes when you least expect it. The day the trumpet went silent.