by David Gordon
Bob and his wife Annie were chiropractors in their late 30s, with two sons age 5 and 7. Two years ago Bob received a diagnosis of malignant melanoma. After the ups and downs of treatments and remissions, the cancer metastasized and it became clear that Bob would not survive his illness.
Still, because of his initial reprieves, Bob and his family were now in denial about his terminal illness, still pretending that everything would turn out OK. Finally, Bob lay in a hospital bed in his own bedroom. He was on morphine for pain, he had not eaten in two weeks, and he had lost most of his motor skills and was unable to speak.At this point Celia, Bob's psychotherapist, asked if we might use music and sound to soften the situation, and bring the family to an awareness that Bob was getting ready to leave his body.
To be invited into a such situation is a deep honor and great responsibility for a sound healer. The gift of music is valuable in situations where thoughts and feelings have become frozen in a place of fear and attachment. To put aside ego and simply be present in a situation where there are no "solutions" is a difficult but rewarding posture to hold.
Celia and I arrived at Bob's house early in the afternoon. Annie welcomed us at the door and led us to the bedroom where Bob lay, his eyes partly opened, his breathing shallow, his body thin and weak, hardly able to move. And yet the atmosphere in the room was filled with a powerful energy of fear, rigidity, and illusion. Bob seemed to be struggling, uncomfortable, desperate.
We were meeting for the first time. I greeted him, held his hands in mine, spoke softly to him, and hoped he would be able to listen to my songs. Then, after a brief meditation, I began to sing some gentle songs to clear the air and create a peaceful buzz of musical vibrations in the room. Then I began softly to chant. "Om Ram, Hare Ram." My words were hardly audible, I just used the sound of the vowels and pitches to carry intentions of loving balance and harmony. Celia, the therapist, read a meditation while I played my guitar in gentle droning chords. Then together, we joined our two voices and harmonized in peaceful chanting and repetitive singing.
The rigidity in the air began to soften and melt. The two boys, at first nervous and unsure, became calmer. They came to my side as I sat on the spare bed and leaned against me, one with his head in my lap, the other embracing me from the side. Bob's wife and mother in law, at first fussy and frantic, relaxed and began to breathe deeply and cry softly. The aura of denial and fear began to dispel. Calmness and peace came into the room.As Celia and I continued to hum to the chords of the guitar, Annie went to Bob's side, took him in her arms, and said "I'll miss you honey, but we'll be alright." Celia later told me this was the first she had heard Annie acknowledge to Bob or to anyone else that he was dying. It was as if the room and everyone in it breathed a deep sigh of peace and acceptance.
Just 90 minutes of music, born with loving intention to the listeners, helped bring about a yearned-for shift in consciousness. The music didn't force anything to happen. Rather, the vibrations and the intentions they carried created a sacred space where healing could take place."Healing" is not the same as "curing." "Healing" means to balance what exists in the present moment.
Bob died three days later. Annie said he was at peace, healed, and whole in those last three days. Music had helped to open the portal to Bob's own healing. Music had helped him to cross over.
(This story is entirely true. I've changed the names to protect privacy.)
Orinda, CA , November 2000
Copyright © 2000 David Gordon