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  • Writer's pictureBri

Can you hear the music?

I often find myself thinking about my own experiences with death and loss, and wondering if I should share them with you, and how. Some stories are quite long, and I know that can be overwhelming on social media. But I think there is magic in these little stories we all hold in our hearts. You are all so vulnerable with me, and trusting of me each time we enter a medium reading or soul session. I know and appreciate that. Often times we are talking about people you loved with your whole heart, tied to painful memories. So I thought it was time I start to share my own with you. This one is about Grandpa Jack, my dad, and a Spotify playlist. When we all were gifted with time during this pandemic, I asked my dad if he could make a playlist for me on Spotify. I have so many wonderful memories of singing along to the stereo with my dad on car rides. "If I could walk 500 miles" and ACDC hits would often be shouted from the top of my lungs as we drove along. I don't remember most of the songs now, which is why I asked my dad to make a playlist for me of these treasured songs. He did something very different! My dad sent me a playlist called "Our Jackie". It's a playlist of songs from the '50s. The playlist is filled with hits from Doris Day, Frank Sinatra, and Engelbert Humperdinck among others. It's all music my grandpa loved. Grandpa Jack, "Our Jackie". My dad compiled these songs using a notebook from my Grandpa that contains a long handwritten list of his favourite songs. This playlist is such a gift to have and also spurred on a very intense, beautiful, and emotional memory for me surrounding my grandfather's passing. We're not the kind of people who only saw their grandparent's a couple of times a year. My family is very close. In fact, one of the best mid-day surprises I used to receive was a facetime call from my Grandpa (he was 85 when he bought himself an iPhone!). My grandpa Jack was simply my favourite person. I think a lot of us felt that way about him. Here's the memory I want to share with you. My grandpa was in hospice care in his final days. At this point Grandpa couldn't open his eyes, speak, eat, or move much at all other than the odd eyebrow raise or lick of his dry lips. Our family was there through it all. We took breaks to go home, shower, refuel, and come back. But mostly, we were either in his room with him or sitting as a family in the larger 'family' room. We sat with my grandma and did everything we could to be there for each other. We're a very emotional family (which, I totally blame on my Grandpa who would tear up when we played their wedding song around him), which meant oftentimes one person would start to cry, and then we all would. It was really hard to lose him. He was truly like sunshine to be around. It was also hard to watch him like this. My grandpa always loved music. I have his old antique radio in my home; which includes a license to play music in it! Grandpa played the piano and sometimes would do so from memory while visiting my parent's house on his old player piano. Some of my favourite memories are catching him doing this when no one was watching or listening. It was so sweet to witness and felt like your own private concert. On our way home from his burial, grandpa even played "piano man" on the radio to send us a much-needed sign, and let us know that he was okay. While Grandpa was in hospice my dad took it upon himself to give his father the best possible experience he could, and somehow knew exactly what he needed; some music to get through his final days. My dad queued up an oldies playlist on his phone and rested it on the pillow next to Grandpa so he could listen to the music. I often think about what my grandpa, and everyone in this position are experiencing. Your entire body is failing you, you can hear the cries of your loved ones along with whispers of how much they love you as you drift in and out of consciousness. I can imagine that having anything to concentrate on, other than dying, at this point would be a welcome distraction. I think the music my dad played did just that. My dad and I were alone in my grandpa's room with him. Grandpa was laying still in the hospice bed, with a deep horrible sound coming from his lungs (COPD). My dad dabbed his lips with a wet sponge to keep them moist and held his hand. At this point in Grandpa's journey over the bridge, he was entirely unresponsive to us. It was like he was in a deep sleep. That being said, we always treated him as though he could hear us. I remember sitting across from my dad and asking "Do you think the music is loud enough?". My dad said "We should ask him!" and dad loudly and clearly asked, "Jackie, can you hear the music?". What followed was nothing short of a tiny miracle. My grandpa's head perfectly nodded up and down in response. My grandpa who hadn't moved for days. He nodded. My jaw dropped, and I said "Dad he heard you!" and we started bawling. I'm teared up just retelling this story. Not because I'm sad, but because I am in constant awe at the compassion and kindness I witnessed between my dad and his father during this time. I'm in awe at how totally beautiful and sad life can be all at once. All loss hurts. Not because they are gone, but because so much love exists with seemingly nowhere to go. A cellphone that can no longer FaceTime your favourite person. So where do we put this love? Into each other. "Be the things you loved most about the people who are gone" I try to keep my grandpa alive in any way I can. In wearing my big bright smile that I inherited from him and my dad, in his incredible ability to make others feel important, and in the irreplaceably warm presence he had. Thanks, Grandpa. I hope you can hear the music up there. Bri

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