Sometimes it’s the little moments in life, the ones we tell stories about years later, that stay with us. They are the like the songs we sing, the tunes we hum, and the lullabies we fall asleep to. They shape who we are. Neil Young’s Heart Of Gold comes to mind.
Back in the nineties, I was working at as a music therapist for a hospice program in greater Cleveland. One of my patients was a 9-year-old boy who was dying from a brain tumor. When I went to visit him, he was full of joy when we sang your music and that was all he wanted to do. You may remember visiting him on the east side of Cleveland through the Make-A-Wish Foundation. It was his wish to meet you, and you came.
Meeting Neil Young
A few days after your visit, I went to see him. He was beaming. He could hardly tell me what it was like to meet you because his swollen mouth could not keep up with the many words he was trying to say. Near the end of his short life, no matter how sick he was, he only wanted to hear Harvest Moon and Heart of Gold, over and over again. He strummed the Omnichord with his pointer finger as I played the guitar. I sang, and he hummed what he could. Our eyes met when we finished a song, and a pause suspended time as a smile grew on his face and then mine.
“I met him,” he’d say.
“You sure did” I’d reply. And we would start the song again.
Your quiet arrival in Cleveland and humble entrance into his brick bungalow living room gave so much meaning to his last days of life on this Earth. The joy that it brought for his wish to come true comforted his parent’s days as they continued to live in this world. It’s the little moments that stay with us and shape who we are.
That little guy shaped my life, too. Here I am writing you this letter. I think about him every time I hear your music or see you in the news. And that just brings a smile to my face. I can’t thank you enough.
All these years later, I’m writing a book about living, dying, and everything in between. I don’t tell the story of your visit; it is not mine to tell. But I do attempt to share the power of music and the magic that happens when one heart of gold visits another heart of gold.
May you know the joy you bring others,
P.S. I’m happy to share the pre-edited version of the manuscript with you if you have any interest. There is an unspoken beauty of connecting over the shared impressions of a life well lived, even at the tender age of nine.
Above is my letter to Neil Young
Learn more about Neil HERE
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