I lost my first music therapy client about a month ago.
She was a hospice patient, and she was the sweetest person I had ever met (which says a lot, because I’ve had the fortune of knowing so many wonderful people).
When I first got the news, even though I knew she had been in hospice for many reasons, I was still taken aback. We’d thought she had more time. I’d been planning my next session with her. I was going to see her in just a few days.
Plus, she had requested a song at our last session that I didn’t know, and I’d promised to learn it for her. That night after receiving the call, I cried. I felt like I’d broken a promise, and I wanted so badly to follow through on it.
In the weeks since then, I’ve processed this with my colleagues, therapist, and supervisor, and I realize repeatedly how lucky I am for such a strong support system. They reminded me that I had given her positive experiences before she passed, and that telling her I’d learn the song for her was a gesture in itself, and that she’d been peaceful. Hopeful.
Two sessions before that, she had told me what songs she wanted at her memorial. She said her husband had never been a musical person but once heard a specific song, came home to her, and said, “This is my song for you.” That was the one she wanted at her memorial, even though she said she wouldn’t need it. She’d be with Jesus, she said, but she knew her loved ones would feel better holding one for her.
My supervisor performed those songs at her funeral, and she passed away surrounded by people she loved.
At what I didn’t know would be our last session together, I sang two hymns for her. Near the end, she wanted me to sing one more song—she didn’t care what it was, but she wanted it to be something I loved.
So I sang “Come In With the Rain,” which I thought I’d never sing to a patient, and she loved it. She said the lyrics were lovely, and I told her I looked forward to our next session. I meant it.
Today it hit me that that was the last song she’d ever heard. It hurts that she is no longer here, but I’m thankful I got to know her in her last few months, that I had such meaningful interactions with her, that our sessions brightened her days when we were there. And reflecting now, I realize there is no greater moment of genuine connection—singing a song I loved deeply to a lovely woman who understood.