We are such stuff as music is made of. We are composed of vibrations; of waves of energy that ebb and flow, and particles that leap and jiggle.
A few years ago, social worker Dan Cohen discovered that music could unlock the minds of shut down, depressed and inert alzheimers and dementia patients, (mostly people who had been relegated to care homes). The extraordinary documentary Alive Inside recounts how giving these patients, who seem no longer of this world, an iPod filled with their favorite music is transformative. Almost instantaneously they smile, begin to dance in their chair, tap their feet, wave their arms, to sing, to remember and in many cases to talk. One woman pushes away her walker and starts to dance. Everyone is moved, physically and emotionally.
I wonder if hospice could use some of this music too? I remember, two weeks before Laura passed, we sat in the intensive care ward listening to her favorite songs on my laptop. It was New Year’s Eve and she began to jiggle about on the bed, doing a seated version of wild dancing. Afterwards she was so happy she started relating all her favorite moments of all the silly things we had done together. By then her medication – or perhaps her disease – was playing tricks with her mind, so she would fall asleep for a few minutes mid-sentence. And then to my surprise, she would awake and continue from where she left off. It was the sweetest thing.