At first, the music we played in my daughter’s hospital room following her longboarding accident and resulting head injury was almost mystical. At the time, her favorite artist was Christian singer Lauren Daigle. And when she stabilized enough to have music in her room, it was only Lauren Daigle my daughter wanted to hear. The lyrics to Lauren’s songs are powerful words of Biblical truth, the music haunting at times.
Our daughter had experienced several small areas of bleeding on her brain as a result of her fall. They didn’t grow, thankfully, but as the doctors cautioned us, it wasn’t the size of the bleed that was the primary concern, it was the location. Even a small bleed in the wrong spot could mean permanent impairment.
So, to her Mom and me, the music was more than just a diversion, it was diagnostic. We could feel the loneliness and the fog of worry lift as my daughter mouthed the words to the songs as she slept. Eventually, she began to sing along with the tunes, weakly at first but stronger by the day. Is her memory OK? Check. What about her ability to carry a tune? Again, check.
As time passed and my daughter was discharged from the hospital, the music became more varied. The unusual sounds and instruments that Justin Bieber uses in his current music. The bold harmonies of the outstanding men’s group Celtic Thunder. Even “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash. Thanks to the miracle of technology and online music services, I was treated to all of those songs, and more, during our drive to rehabilitation therapy each morning.
Back in my radio and TV days in college, the broadcasting textbooks referenced something called “the milepost phenomenon.” It’s the unique ability of a song to take you back to the time when the song was popular, to make you feel like you are actually there, even decades later. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. It’s the closest thing to time travel that we’re likely to experience this side of heaven.
And it occurred to me: these songs – Lauren Daigle, Celtic Thunder, and yes, the Man in Black – will someday in the future transport me back to the fall of 2015. For me, these songs were the soundtrack for a time of fear, of worry, and of loneliness. But it was also a time of great hope, of pulling together as a family, of the love of family and friends, of celebration as our daughter improved, and of thankfulness to God for his grace, mercy, and healing. In fact, during my unguarded moments, I’ve already found myself describing these past four months as a “sweet time.” Imagine that.
If this soundtrack to a brain injury must take me back there, and inevitably it will, I’m OK with that.