Like most people, I love music. Pop, rock, gospel, country, classical, hip hop…I don’t have a favorite. I like it all. Music provides a soundtrack to each of our lives, as any particular song carries us immediately back to some specific time or place. To this day, I can’t hear Madonna’s “Holiday” or “Like a Virgin” without thinking of college. Billy Idol’s “White Wedding” reminds me of my first college roommate, while Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” reminds me of my second college roommate. Then there’s Prince, U2, Luther Vandross…Oh, wait!!! Sweet Dreams by The Eurythmics! I loved that song! Anyway, over the years since college I have added to my sound track and to my memories, some good and some not so good. However, some 23 years later there’s one song that still brings a flood of memories every time that I hear it.
My son was six weeks old when he was diagnosed with a large hole in the ventricle walls of his heart and underwent open heart surgery at 4 months. During the next few weeks I would go and spend the entire day sitting beside his bed feeding him, comforting him, staring at how beautiful he was (I still do that on occasion, but he thinks it’s creepy). I got to know some of the doctors and nurses that took care of the babies and I bonded with some of the other moms as they visited with their children. Usually, there was a radio playing one of the local soft rock stations and it kind of helped pass the time while I was there. During that time, Gloria Estefan’s intentionally inspirational song “Coming Out of the Dark” was released and immediately became a big hit reaching number 1 on the music charts. Estefan’s tour bus had been involved in an accident in which the singer was almost killed and suffered serious injuries. After a very long road to recovery, this was the first song that she performed in her public comeback. The chorus says:
Coming out of the dark
I finally see the light now,
It’s shining on me.
Initially, I thought it was a nice song, but as the days went on and my little guy struggled before he got better, I tired of it. Like every top forty or soft rock station, the song was in the rotation to play every hour and, frankly, my world was still very dark. The future was uncertain for me and my son – I needed a new job, I needed my boy to be healthy and I needed to get on my feet. Quite frankly, it all seemed insurmountable. So, eventually every time that I would hear Gloria’s voice start singing that song, I seriously wanted to grab the nearest hammer and smash the radio to pieces. And you know what? I stayed that way for years after my son’s heart had healed, he had gotten better and we had moved on. I still would turn off the radio if I heard the familiar strains begin.
A few years later we began dealing with yet another serious health concern for my boy when after a year-long illness, he was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at age 7. Yes, he and I are battle hardened survivors. The years that followed were long, sad and full of doctor visits and hospitalizations. Sometimes terrifying and always tiring. During all of this, more than anything I wished that I could hear a doctor tell me that my son no longer had Crohn’s. I dreamed that he’d been cured and we were officially done. I know that you can’t bargain with God, but boy did I try. I just wanted him to be finally healthy. So, some 12 years after his original diagnosis and major surgery, I sat in his hospital room talking with his doctors and surgeons about his procedure and prognosis. They relayed all of the necessary information and at the conclusion the surgeon said to me “I can say that as of right now, he’s doing well and he’s Crohn’s free.” There it was. Crohn’s free. It kind of echoed in my ears and hung there for a moment. I wanted to scream, cry and hug everyone within 100 feet of me but, I didn’t. I maintained control, which now that I think about it, I don’t know why that was so important to me. I suppose that I had been trying to stay in control for so long that it had just become a part of me. It was one of the happiest moments of my life. After the doctors left I sat and talked with my son until he fell asleep then I left the hospital and headed home. As I pulled on to the expressway, I turned on the radio and as if on cue there she was, Gloria, singing about coming out of the dark. I hadn’t heard that song in quite a while, however, this time I didn’t turn it off, but instead, I let it play.
*This post is in response to the writing prompt “The song that reminds me of that time I…” If you would like to read the articles posted by my fellow bloggers please follow the links below.