Real 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?
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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!Tweet
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