Thursday, 12 July 2012

The Gift of Music

From the beginning of my journey with lymphoma, music has played a major role.  This is not surprising as I am a musician in multiple disciplines and music has been part of my soul since I was a preschooler.  The first sign that something was not right with me was when I could not sing the high notes during a lesson I was teaching.  It was this along with trouble speaking and trouble breathing as I played my flute that made me stop and take notice.  It was these symptoms that sent me to my family doctor and started me along the journey through lymphoma.

As I went through my chemotherapy treatments, I used my energy to think of positive things, feel the love of family and friends wrap itself around me and commune with God.  However, during this time deep inside, I was mourning the temporary loss of my ability to sing and play my flute.  I would go to the piano occasionally to play when I was strong enough, but I missed singing so much that it was a constant ache in my soul.  I have tried to acknowledge this pain and yearning to myself and then move on and focus on what I can do.

Now that I'm in remission, it still feels like part of me is absent.  That is the musical part of me.  I've been playing the piano and that helps ease the ache.  A few weeks ago, I tried to play my flute.  Unfortunately, it seems to aggravate the larynx nerve which is damaged and is currently healing.  This was a real blow to my inner self.  I had hoped that I could at least play my flute and slowly join my friends in our chamber group on Wednesday evenings.  I haven't played with them since November 23, 2011.  I miss the music, the laughter and the fellowship.  So again, I don't dwell on the fact that I'm not playing my flute or singing, but deep underneath, the sorrow is a constant ache.

Yesterday my friend, who I played flute and oboe duets with (she's the oboist) and we played together with our other friends on Wednesday nights, called me up and wondered if I would like to get together to make music together.  Her suggestion was that I accompany her on the piano.  This was like a rain shower on some very arid and thirsty flowers.  My soul perked right up and was excited to get together today to make music with my very special friend who has been by my side right from the beginning in November.

I could hardly sleep last night because I was so excited to be playing with her even though it was in a new role.  Unfortunately because I didn't sleep well, it was difficult to arise this morning.  As a result, I was running a wee bit late.  Once I arrived at my friend's house, we had a wonderfully enjoyable time of playing music from various genres.  We played some pieces from different musicals as well as some music from the 1930's and 40's.  This lifted my spirits so much and made me realize just how much I was missing my music.  Music is an integral part of who I am.

One of the many different thoughts that I pondered while ill, was my tendency towards performance anxiety.  I have always restricted myself to performing in church where it is generally an accepting audience.  This doesn't mean that I don't strive to play at a high standard, but if I don't quite make it, then people are very forgiving.  In the last seven years, I've let my anxiety get the better of me and I have not played my flute in church very often at all.  I've allowed my fears to rule me.  While I've been fighting the lymphoma and going through treatments, I prayed and thought about my role in my church in regards to my flute playing.  I've always taught my children that the church is God's home.  When we attend church, we are visiting in the home of our closest friend and supporter.  Why should I fear to play for and worship my God in His/Her home?  God doesn't want me to be afraid.  God will be happy with my best effort.  I realized my fears and anxiety actually come from what other people will think of me.  Perhaps my performing in church was becoming more about impressing people rather than worshipping God.

It will be a long time yet before I'm ready to perform in church on my flute or by singing.  My larynx nerve is still healing and I can't be using it until it is fully healed.  Otherwise, I will just be extending the amount of time before I can use it again.  In the meantime, I can play the piano and I can tend to the garden of my soul by enjoying making music with my friend as well as on my own.  It's time to embrace my music in any way I can.  I just have to remember and restrain myself from singing aloud.  My soul will soar with the music and sing for me.

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