"We have an actively dying patient requesting harp music," said the hospice volunteer coordinator. "Can you go?" I received this call earlier this week in the morning and had to go to work. After work, I found out the man in question was still with us and still hoping for harp music.
I found his room easily. He was residing at the nursing home where I did my healing harp internship. When I entered, I saw a very emaciated elder, with long, wild grey hair. I asked if he still wanted harp music. He opened his eyes and whispered, "The harp! The Harp! Ohhh! Yes.There is nothing like a harp." His room mate turned his TV off and suggested I close the door. As I began to play, my patient immediately drifted away.
I thought he had passed several times. His breathing became very infrequent and his eyes were glazed over. But he was still with me. His room mate's phone rang and there was an angry conversation full of cussing. I was determined to hold a peaceful space of beauty for my gentle friend. He was not bothered by this call.
There were notes on the wall alongside his bed, with words of love from those who cared for him. I saw a few photos from his life. I played for an hour and a half, wondering if he was leaving soon and I wanted to be there for him with the music he craved. But my eyes were blurring, and my back and arms beginning to hurt. As I began to pack up, he came to and thanked me repeatedly, by laying his hands on his heart and beaming. I gave him an origami peace dove and he held it hard and fast, pinched between his fingers. As he looked like he had been a bit of a wild man, I said, "See you on the flip side, my friend." That made him silently shake with laughs, as much as a dying man can.
I was so honored to have granted this wild and gentle soul a last request for harp music, as he leaves his mortal coil. Happy Trails to you!
Karen Lee DeBraal