The Secret to Life

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6 years ago. That was the first time I stepped foot in a Children’s Hospital, my red guitar in tow, and unsure of what to expect.

 A few months earlier, I approached the head of Songs For Kids, based in Atlanta, after singing at a benefit concert. I sang, I donated, I bought the t-shirt but I wanted to do more. They just happened to need a volunteer in Macon, my hometown.

So here I was. Singing Taylor Swift, Zac Brown Band, and even the Spongebob theme song for whoever voted “yes” to a musical stranger. 

It was within those walls that I learned how to focus my music as a tool of pure love. I learned to ignore my bad hair days, my missed lyrics, and off notes. When I entered their room, it was all about THEM, not me. 

If they weren’t feeling it? That was okay. I was there to serve their need for rest and quiet not my need to be heard. 

And yet, they did hear me. I developed unspeakably beautiful friendships within minutes. I never thought that possible before. 

Often times, I would think myself there to cheer these kids and their families up, but then THEY would cheer ME up. 

“Has anyone ever told you that you should audition for American Idol?” I beamed. Especially my first day back after the sudden and painful loss of my father, who was one of my biggest supporters. He believed in me and now my grief was comforted by THEIR belief. 

It wasn’t long before I realized that I wasn’t just singing to the kids. The parents needed it too. They needed to escape long days, attempting comfort in hospital chairs, and worrying. Sometimes it was because they needed to sing along to Michael Jackson tunes. Sometimes it was because they needed to run and get a saving cup of coffee and be where they could express their stress fully. 

I was there for them. 

Out of a strong commitment to their privacy, I can’t tell specifics about the children I met. But I can tell you they I met kids who told me I wasn’t any good (until I play “What Does the Fox Say” and totally won them over!). I met kids who wanted me to stay for hours and pulled up all of their favorite songs on youtube in order to teach them to me quick enough to sing them on my guitar. 

I’ve met kids who recovered. I’ve met kids who didn’t. 

There is no way around it, your heart gets attached and though I don’t know them beyond these walls, my heart has broken for them. 

Then it beats with more determination to be a part of their journey and hopefully, their cure. 

That’s why I didn’t think twice when I saw Macy Easom Cancer Research Foundation was holding a songwriting competition. I saw the beautiful intersection of my passions once more. I didn’t even care if I won, I knew my entry money was going towards a good cause. 

When I won, there was a song I knew that would be the perfect fit to record and it’s about my time in the Children’s Hospital. It’s FOR these families and their beautiful children. It’s FOR the child life specialist, the nurses, and the doctors. It’s FOR them. 

Because they know the secret to life. Maybe you do too…