My grandfather died while the people that loved him sang hymns around his bed. They say that hearing is the last sense to go. I hope that that’s true, because if it is, the last thing he perceived in this world were the beautiful sounds of music he loved. When he was already gone, they sang more hymns, to heal themselves and each other from their loss.
In life, my grandfather was a minister, to an outsider, that could have been the reason why it was decided that he would pass in this way, with hymns, and maybe that was part of it, but really it was because music is the most beautiful thing that one person can make for another in the world, and they wanted him to have it until the last breath he took.
Music governs my life. I literally cannot get through any day without hearing or making music, and I can’t remember a time when I have. Music is healing. Whenever I press a key on the piano, or sing a single note of music, I see my grandmother’s face. She died three years before my grandfather, and she loved music even more than he did. I’ll close my eyes while I’m at the piano or in the choir stalls, and I’ll feel Maia’s presence. Music connects me to the grandmother I wish I had known better. I was only 9 when she died, and I wish I had appreciated her and her music so much more.
There has been scientific evidence that show that people with severe mental diseases such as schizophrenia are themselves only when they hear music they like. Something about hearing a beautiful melody helps them remember who they are, and reminds them of what they value and love. I think it’s pretty remarkable that there is something in this world that has the power to bring back people who are so far gone.
I believe in the power of music. Music heals, brings joy, sadness, and unites people, for however short a time. Above all, music is love. It’s that love that made my grandfather pass in such a beautiful way. It’s that love that connects my grandmother to me even now. And it’s that love that caused me, sitting at my grandfather’s funeral, listening to a tape of one of his sermons in silence in the church in Michigan that he loved, as I felt the tears start to come, to look outside at the sunlight coming through the trees, close my eyes tightly, and sing silently to myself, here comes the sun, here comes the sun, and I say, it’s alright. And I knew it would be.