A year ago on this day William breathed his last in our arms, the conclusion of a twenty-one hour vigil after he’d been removed from a respirator. We’d played music and sung to him during the six weeks he was hospitalized, especially his favorite, Stevie Ray Vaughn, over and over. On a trip back to Chicago Elizabeth recorded “I Say A Little Prayer”, by Burt Bacharach, with her roommate, Emily Casey. When William died, she immediately played their beautiful rendition of the song for him one last time. I don’t have it here. Perhaps Elizabeth does and can post it. She also sang it at Will’s memorial service.
She then played another song I’d never heard, by an artist I’d never known. It was Antony and the Johnsons singing “Thank You For Your Love”. In the days that followed I played it incessantly. It was a source of comfort and, I think in retrospect, a way of not quite letting go of William and that concluding moment in the hospital.
As time went by I began to listen to other songs sung by Antony. That led me to this Leonard Cohen song. I’d listen to various artists sing the song, but eventually returned over and over to Mr. Cohen himself singing “If It Be Your Will.”
In short order I began to listen to Cohen and many, many other artists sing, “Hallelujah”. My favorite, the one I listen to now as I write, is KD Lang’s.
It is hard to describe the comfort these songs provided between the time of Will’s death and his memorial service, and beyond. I’d lie down, computer balanced on my chest, listen, remember, cry and think. Certainly some of that thinking was given over to our pledge to William. We renew it again here today. Thanks to everyone who has helped us make progress. We will prevail.
“We promise to do everything in our power to educate and inform people about drug abuse and its prevention, to provide ever more enlightened treatment for addicts, to help make treatment options for addicts more readily available, and to remove the stain of shame surrounding this disease. We ask you all, as witnesses, to give us the same kind of strength and support you have so lovingly offered over the last several weeks, as we strive to honor our word. Action is eloquence.”