On the eve of my wedding day, my alcoholic mother hit bottom after a month without food, and my trusted friend (aka. fiancee) uncharacteristically got so drunk that he was still attached to the toilet the next morning and appeared on the altar with broken blood vessels circling his eyes.
The photographer’s car broke down on the way to the hotel, and up until the last minute, my father refused to ride to the church in the limousine with me because it would leave out my stepmother.
When the flowers arrived all wrong, I needed a drink, and so I had some champagne with my bridesmaids; but it was the the music that finally soothed me–at the church with If It’s Magic–and later at the reception with funk where I danced the night away, despite my father’s urgings to visit each table in conversation. It was selfish of me to ignore my seated guests, but I was in desperate need of the medicine of music and movement.
When my grandfather died the following year, music continued to be a source of solace. My sisters and cousins gathered at my apartment and we relived a dramatic rendition of “My Way” first given by our grandmother when we were children. We brought music along too, The New Jersey Mass Choir, and let their voices echo in the vestibule before and after that sad service.
From reel to reels with my father in the basement of my childhood home, to 45’s in my bedroom, to 8 tracks in my boyfriend’s car, to mixed tapes made for friends, music continues to soothe and celebrate the days of my life.
When I gave birth to my son, at home, I had my husband turn on the CD player with Lauryn Hill and then James Taylor to ease me into the opening necessary for delivery.
Music continued to be medicine when my mother was in the hospital. My sisters and I sang, Wade in the Water. and later infused the ceremony that celebrated her life with so much music that people called the funeral, “a musical.”
Landslide and Amazing Grace offered by two different soloists on guitar, and even an impromptu Tora Lora Loo, by me, in honor of the lullaby my mother sang all our lives. Lean on Me, brought us through the private burial; and mixed tapes got us through that winter when we encountered the dark face of loss.
It was just a handful of years ago that I found a way to make the medicine of music and movement a regular part of my life, by incorporating it into the healing work I do. Now I actually make money creating soundtracks and chakra dance parties for people of all ages.
I think on the medicine of music as I select songs from my iPod for my upcoming 21st wedding celebration, and I am so grateful to all those who make the music that moves us–inside and out.
Kelly Salasin, May 19, 2011
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