Hospice was quite the experience today. I sometimes feel anxious before playing for families but oddly enough I felt calm. I pet the therapy dog for a few minutes and then began tuning my violin.
Earlier this morning, I had a conversation with a musician about the hardships of African American musicians here in America. Often times, the talent is there but we lack connections and opportunities to create a stable platform. We are judged before we share our talent and craft. Today in Hospice that happened to me.
I knocked and entered a room where the patient was in bed resting. The family members were scattered around the room so I made sure to greet myself to everyone. Once given permission to play, I noticed family members had their phones ready to record so I said anyone can record and share. A gentleman sitting in the corner gave me a strange look and replied, "well that depends on if you're good." I turned my attention to him and said, "you can be the judge." I readied my violin and started with You Are My Sunshine. Within the first phrase, different family members sang along and reached for tissues to dry their tears. I focused my attention on the patient and observed reactions around the room. I smiled at the patient's son and continued as the wife sang.
Once I finished, the son asked if I would still be around while his mother came to visit. He shared that she survived a stroke years ago and that his family was Hawaiian. I knew I was short on time so I offered to play one of their favorite songs Somewhere Over the Rainbow and that they could record. While I played the song, the gentleman from before took out his phone to record and seemed captivated by the music. He said "wow" after I played. He put his phone in his pocket and walked over to me and said "your music touches so many hearts. You have no idea the impact you have on the families here and people. Thank you." He gave me a hug and smiled.
I can't imagine what it feels like to have a loved one in Hospice. I do my best to return the grace extended to me by sharing my music and time. I love playing for people and saw transformation through music today. After I left the room, the family continued to play the recording of Somewhere Over the Rainbow over and over again while they waited for the mother to arrive.