In a round about sort of way, Jordan ended up playing a musical number yesterday at a funeral for a woman whom we did not know. It was a last-minute request, and he only had about 40 minutes to come up with the arrangement that they wanted – Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, combined with All Creatures of Our God and King. He was a little stressed about pulling it together, but he was able to pull it off. His years of practice and preparation paid off in that moment.
Shortly before the funeral started, Kathleen Hallsey, mother of Tyler Hallsey (read his story here), walked in and sat down next to me. Tyler was 13 when he was diagnosed with Pontine Glioma, a tumor surrounding the brain stem. He fought for about a year a half before succumbing to the awful disease this past July. He was 15.
I haven’t seen Kathleen in years. She and I met when Elise went to preschool with her youngest son seven years ago. We haven’t really kept in touch, but I have followed Tyler’s story on Facebook, and their family has been included in many of our prayers. My heart was full when I saw her, but I wasn’t sure what to say. What do you say to somebody who has been through something so awful? We didn’t have much time to talk before the meeting began, so it was pretty much just small talk.
The meeting got underway and soon it was time for Jordan’s musical number. He got up and played, with no music to follow but the music in his heart. It sounded something like this:
The spirit was tangible. Along with the beautiful music, I heard many people sniffing back tears. It reminded me of how powerful music is. It is the universal language that everybody can understand. There were no words – just notes on the piano, and almost instantly a wave of comfort, peace, and hope spread over the room like a blanket. I was so grateful that Jordan was able to experience that. Through his talent, and a little help from the Lord, he was able to be a messenger of peace for those who were mourning.
I couldn’t help but notice that Kathleen was very emotional during the song. After the meeting, she told me how much she missed hearing the piano. Tyler loved to play, and was the only one of her kids who had that passion. Since his passing, her piano has remained untouched. I copied this picture from Tyler’s Facebook page.
My heart broke for her. I’m sure that listening to Jordan play reminded her of Tyler, how much she missed him, and perhaps what could have been. He and Jordan were the same age.
I was struggling to find the right words to say to her. I told her that I appreciated reading their story on Facebook, and how much my faith has been strengthened through reading about Tyler’s faith and their faith as a family. I told her how amazing he was, and how I knew that their family had been an inspiration to so many people. She cried, and we hugged, and she told me how hard it was, which she described as worse than you could ever imagine. I have no doubt. As much as I wanted to take away her pain – to make it all better – to bring Tyler back so that she could hear him play the piano again, I couldn’t. All I could do was hope that the music of Jordan’s heart had touched her heart as well – perhaps making her feel closer to Tyler for just a moment. I hope he was able, through his music, to bring her, and all others who were mourning, a measure of peace – to remind them that God is in charge, and that he has not forgotten them – that there is still hope for better days ahead.
That is the power of music.