September 3, 2012 at 4:26 AMReal life, over the past 48 hours, has reminded me about the power of music and art.
Friday morning, my teenage daughter awoke with an ache in her stomach so bad she could barely walk. She's had a bit of pain all week, but this was something far worse. We took her to the doctor, and after a morning of uncomfortable medical tests, the results pointed to appendicitis -- and imminent surgery for her. Remembering my sister's burst appendix in childhood and her hellish recovery, I understood all too well that you don't mess with appendicitis, and you don't wait for it to worsen. But that didn't help my daughter feel any better.
We couldn't console her, and everything the surgeon at the hospital said just made things scarier and worse. He explained procedures that involved needles and knives, dangers, possible complications -- all in unvarnished detail. Suddenly we were being admitted to the hospital's pediatric ward and moved to a room for more tests. Our anxiety rose.
We sat despondently, already tired from our day, and knowing we had much, much more to face. At this point, a stream of beautiful sounds surprised us. What was that? I peeked out the door. A big, beautiful harp sat in the hall, a woman playing it. I can say with certainty, this would not have felt the same, piped over speakers as background music. A real, live person had brought her enormous harp to the fourth floor of the hospital, and her well-trained fingers strummed and plucked away, all with the intent of pacifying people in distress. Each note sprang so clearly from a vibrating string; it was so present. And it worked. We grinned at each other when we started to recognize the tunes forming in the ether: Feed the Birds from Mary Poppins; Scales and Arpeggios from the Aristocats; Winnie the Pooh… Play any song on the harp, and it sounds sophisticated and heavenly, no matter what its origin!
The music changed the hospital atmosphere completely, from a worried bustle to beauty and peace. We breathed easier -- for a while.
Because a number of hours later, our daughter was in surgery, and we had several hours to pass before we would see her. Having neglected to eat all day, I realized I was hungry, and my son accompanied me to the cafeteria. Choosing where we would sit, we noticed some outdoor seating and headed toward the door. We found a beautiful courtyard, with flowers, fountains and foliage. We sat in the midst of it. I wondered, who made this garden? Who raised money, who decided it was important enough to have this here?
Because it is. It's incredibly important to have this here. All these things helped us immeasurably; they gave us strength and courage. How can anyone fail to see that the arts heal us, help us, even save us?
* * *
She is still recovering in the hospital but definitely on the mend. So many people have sent us their thoughts and prayers -- thanks to all of you!
Best wishes to your daughter!!!
You are right, of course...and the key is being able to see and hear what is right with us (not piped over a loudspeaker or found on an i-device). We need to become present--as you did, in your fear--and you found the consolation to carry on.
Thank you so much for sharing.
I definitely agree, art heals your soul, too bad I don't see much art these days, and everyone is talking about money and football (Which I totally HATE)...
My best wishes to your daughter also :)
I am glad that music was there to help ease both you and you family. I wish a fast and easy recovery for your daughter. I'm happy that everything went as planed. I send love and wishes!!
So true -- music does have a healing impact. I've experienced it. It wasn't with anything nearly as serious as appendicitis, but it was enough to convince me that this stuff works. Same for tasteful artwork and landscaping. This makes me want to share the music still more. If it brightens a few more lives and eases some stress, that's enough to make my day.
When I was a kid, I had my tonsils removed in a Catholic hospital during Christmas break. It was minor surgery, but I was pretty uptight. As I lay sleeping in my hospital room after the surgery, I awoke to hear nuns walking through the halls singing Christmas carols. It was beautiful.
I will always remember with appreciation that people on v.com played some music by Bach for me when I was deeply in need.
I send my best wishes to your daughter and to you, too, for rapid healing. When I play my violin tomorrow, I'll play something for her (and for you).
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