Let me tell you the story of Carol and John. I guarantee if you’d seen them at choir you’d have wanted to know more about them — they had a way of standing out.

Carol was suffering from a degenerative disease, the results of which were partial blindness and dementia. John was her constant companion and her support, holding her hand and singing alto just to be close to her.

Carol wasn’t able to follow every song perfectly but she loved every song just the same. When she got up in the morning she would always ask John, “Is today the day we’re singing with Marion?” Sometimes they even made it in twice a week. And it didn’t matter if she could remember the words or follow the tune; she always got something out of it: joy, connection, acceptance from the other singers, love, all of which helped create moments of overwhelming beauty in the midst of disease.

The music continues…

Sadly, Carol’s condition has worsened and the couple can no longer attend Sing Portland!. A recent email from John though, highlights just how significant an impact the choir had on them during the years they were able to join us. Although they can’t physically make it along to the choir, the experience continues to nurture them and bring comfort. John says they spend their time listening to music downloads and Carol will occasionally burst into song, surprising him with tunes he hasn’t heard in years. John even sent me a wonderful gift voucher at Thanksgiving in appreciation of the fact that they’d place their time with Sing Portland! at the top of their list of things to be grateful for.

As much as I appreciate their thanks, I am the one who is thankful for them.

It’s so important to share the impact their presence has had on me and the rest of the singers. Carol and John are the absolute embodiment of the power of song and its ability to communicate love and joy, transcending pain and sadness.

They’ve shown all of us how music can be a beacon of hope even in the darkest times. Just as the music continues to nurture and inspire them, the memory of their time with us continues to inspire us and we truly appreciate that they were able to show us their love and commitment to each other as well as their gratitude for all they had in life, despite adversity.

John says that we were a shining light in their lives but without a doubt it is they who were a shining light in ours.

Carol and John are the reason we do what we do. They are proof of the power of music as a celebration of life, of love, of joy, of gratitude and of humanity.

Carol passed away a few days ago, peacefully, at home. As we sang songs celebrating her, it brought home to me just how beautiful life is, and how very grateful I was to have had the opportunity to know her, and more broadly, how astonishing the connections music makes between us truly are.