December 2, 2013
Paul Hill shared a wonderful story that we would like to share with you!
Jim and I had visited this young patient on the cardiology floor of Medical City, Dallas on several previous occasions. I would guess his age to be about 2, though his frail little body may have belied his true age. We were always welcomed into his room in the intensive care unit, and he would sit wide-eyed, staring at us as we played. His expression always seemed to be more one of wonderment rather than any real enjoyment, but his mom assured us how much he liked our gift of some simple music. One day after we said our goodbyes and were heading down the hall, I heard him crying and joked, "He must be sad we left." It turns out I was more accurate than I thought, and we were asked if we could come back and sing a few more songs. We gladly did.
Last week I was back at Medical City. This time I was by myself, as Jim had started some much-deserved vacation, and I was asked to visit this same little guy. The Child Life Specialist who always works with us in this particular unit said she had three patients she wanted me to sing for and, very wisely, suggested we see this particular patient last. Before entering his room, she very frankly told me that he was expected to die that very day, but that the family truly wanted me to sing. When I entered his room, the lights were very subdued and the child was lying down with eyes closed. There was what I assume to be extended family and friends solemnly gathered. I don't know where I found the strength – and am certain it was not my own – but even with the lump in my throat, I was able to sing very calmly and intentionally what I hoped would "speak" to those gathered – "...if I could, I would give a smile to you. I know you've given more than one to me." And once again, I am certain I received more than I gave.
Tamara Iliff recently shared a story with us from one of her many hospital visits.
The parents looked defeated, having been finally discharged from the hospital only to be readmitted a few days later. The patient was not her usual cheerful self, and she looked tired and pale. When I asked her parents if it would be all right to do some music therapy with the patient, her mother shrugged and said, “You can try. She is in a bad mood today.” The patient’s face brightened when I began playing and singing some of her favorite songs. She grabbed the rail of the bed and pulled herself toward the edge to be closer to the guitar, gazing up with big eyes. When I began singing “The Wheels on the Bus,” the patient became so excited that her eyes widened and her face turned bright red. Her entire body shook in exhilaration as she squealed with joy. Her parents laughed at her animation. As I was leaving, the patient’s mother turned to her father and said that this was the happiest she has seen her daughter all day.
This story brought tears to my eyes. We are very grateful that she shared the moment with us.
Hugworks staff, volunteers, and apprentices deliver services to children with severe illnesses,disabilities, and abusive experiences through two programs, Therapeutic Music Entertainment and Music Therapy. Hugworks helps children cope with the psychological and physical issues created by these conditions through the healing effects of live music. Hugworks direct services can help children relieve pain through laughter and relaxation, gain some control over their environment, vent their frustration and other feelings in positive ways, normalize their environment, improve socialization, develop self-esteem, and feel okay about being different. We work with child life specialists and other medical and early childhood professionals to ensure that the songs and music presented embody appropriate messages of acceptance and unconditional love which speak to children of diverse backgrounds.
Hugworks currently serves children and caregivers in nine DFW facilities. We also serve up to 25 additional Texas children's hospitals and pediatric units, three summer camps in Texas and California, and we tour hospitals around the nation 20-25 days each year.
Through its two direct services, Therapeutic Music Entertainment (TME) and Music Therapy (MT), Hugworks serves many thousands of children, caregivers, and healthcare professionals annually. In 2011, Hugworks provided services for 18,994 individuals which was 27.7% increase over 2010. We have added three TME volunteers and one new music therapist to our team over the last two years.