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The Power of Music

A couple of mornings ago, when I woke up I had an old song from around 2000 stuck in my head – Don’t You Worry by Madasun.

It was a bit of a one off hit for the band and I don’t know anything else they released, but I loved that song at the time and bought the CD single , which I played over and over. These days I have it on my party playlist on Spotify, but I haven’t heard it for quite a long time, so why this song of all songs was stuck on repeat in my brain was a puzzle. So I did what we do, and looked it up on Spotify to hear it and hopefully get the track out of my brain .

A bit later in the afternoon I was driving and of course, Don’ You Worry played in the Jeep since it was where Spotify last left off, and this time I paid attention to the lyrics and suddenly I had a realisation and understood the song came to me because of Jacko. The power of music was once again coming into play with my emotions and into my life.

Don't you worry I'm doin' fine No, don't you worry that you left me behind 'Coz I love my freedom and I love my life So don't you worry coz I'm doin' fine

Riding this fantastic publishing journey has been incredible for me and seen me fulfill a lifelong dream of not just being a writer, but being a published writer. The last few weeks have been quite emotional as my books have arrived from the printers and the reality of where I’m at in life has hit me. During this busy time I’m very aware of both Jacko and my Mumma being around me, watching over me and cheering me on from where they’re no doubt having drinks and shit-stirring each other, and because of the enormity of achieving my dreams , I’m very much aware of their absence. Jacko especially has been around me and I’m feeling him watching me. Some people might think that’s a bit cuckoo, but I believe in spirituality and truly believe lost loved ones remain near us and guide and protect us. So right now, at this most pivotal moment of my life, I feel him, especially in the moments where I’ve had conflicting emotions, sometimes being torn between pure joy at where I am in my life now, then crushing guilt about being happy when he’s no longer here living life with me. This is something I know is a part of grief and normal, and when I have those moments I just ride the waves of emotions and deal. I guess I’ve had a bit more underlying guilt than I was aware, and having Don’t You Worry playing on repeat in my head was my mind’s way of dealing and processing and assuring myself that it is in fact perfectly okay for me to be happy. It’s what he wanted, he assured me of that many times, and I know he’s happy that I’m living my best life and achieving my dreams and I know he’d be so proud of me for being fine. Listening to this song the this week has given me a realisation that I am in fact doing fine, as the lyrics proclaim and that’s perfectly okay. The rest of the lyrics aren’t relevant to my situation since the song is actually about a break up, but the chorus 100% rings true.

Don't you worry I'm doin' fine No, don't you worry that you left me behind

– this is me saying to Jacko that I don’t want him to feel bad that he had to leave me and I was left behind. I know this is the biggest thing Jacko struggled with when he was terminally ill and he told me many times that the pain was so intense that he was ready to go, but he didn’t want to leave me and was worried how I would cope when he was gone. Until the end his concerns were about my wellbeing. That’s just the kind of man he was.

'Coz I love my freedom and I love my life So don't you worry coz I'm doin' fine

- not that I love the freedom of being away from him, that could never be the case. We had a happy marriage and were best friends. But I feel like the bond we had kind of made the loss I felt when I lost him even more profound because there were only good times with him. What I do love is the freedom his love gave me. Watching him fight to live and overcome the pain he was in because he still had so much living to do with me and didn’t want to go, then sitting helplessly and holding his hand as he fought at the end, knowing he had so many dreams he never got to fulfill, either because of fear of chasing his dreams or the limitations that life put on him, inspired me to live my life with the freedom to be my own person for the days I have remaining. If there’s one take away I have from two such losses, it’s that this is my only ride at life and freedom and happiness are the most important things to acquire. I learned that lesson from Jacko, and from Mum; the importance to be free, and I’m happy to say I am. Because of that, I do love my life where I’m at now. I did love my life before and wouldn’t go back and change anything I chose to do before, but knowing now how fleeting life is, I have a deeper love for life and especially, the life I’ve created going forward. So he doesn’t need to worry, which I know he probably still is, because he was a worrier. But don’t worry babe, because I am doing fine. I miss you, but I’m doing fine.

I occasionally hear people say they don’t like music or don’t listen to it and have no favourite singers or songs and I have to confess: these are not my people! I feel like those people have maybe only ever heard like one Beatles song and have judged all music by this, and therefore, sadly, are missing out greatly. (Yes, it’s true, I do NOT like the Beatles at all!!). Music is such a powerful medium and it can have such a profound effect on our moods and emotions and on a deeper level, on our lives. I’ve always been passionate about music and there are so many musicians I admire and follow. I admit I’m a die-hard loyalist and when I love someone, I’m with them for life and evolve with where their music goes as their career and their vocal sounds evolve. Since the first time I ever heard them there’s two bands I’ve been a die-hard fan of: New Kids on The Block and Bon Jovi. I love my boys and am so passionate about the music that both bands have created. NKOTB has especially been such a powerful catharsis for me over the last two years. At the end of my Mum’s fight with cancer, and then weeks later when Jacko became sick, late nights and all-night sessions have been my norm. Jacko couldn’t sleep at night due to the pain and he’d come into the office and sit in his computer chair, which aside from the passenger seat in my Jeep, was the only place he could sit comfortably for any length of time, and he’d watch music videos on his computer, or rally videos or one of his B-grade horror movies that he loved. I’d be up with him, writing at my own desk and keeping him company, listening to New Kids with my noise-cancelling headphones on so I didn’t have to hear the sounds of whatever crazy music or video he was listening to. Anyone who knew Jacko can attest: the man had strange taste in music and movies, bless his kooky heart. My Boys from Boston were the sound I listened to on those long, sleepless nights, and then again after Jacko had passed away, when I’d again sit in my office all night long, losing myself in writing Hostage. I’d listen to their music, watch concert footage on YouTube when I wanted to take a break from writing or finally remembered to eat a meal that day, then it’d be back to listening to their music while I wrote and edited. For months and months the only thing I played on Spotify were the songs from their discography, and that music got me through the night and the loneliness and sadness. Some of the song lyrics resonated so deeply with me, leaving me in tears, but at the end of the cry, I’d always feel slightly lighter and as if I had a bit more strength to press forward. The power of music is amazing, and knowing how important a role NKOTB played in my healing process was why I included them in the dedication section of my book. I wouldn’t have made it through without their songs lifting me up.

Sometimes the memories hit you like a freight train when a certain song comes on. My maternal Nanna loved the song The Rose, by Bette Midler, as well as Amazing Grace.

Both of these were played at her funeral, back in 1998. Even now I can’t hear either of those songs without tearing up, especially The Rose. These days I have the double whammy of hearing my Mumma singing that song. She always loved it like her mother did and she’d sing along to it and when it sometimes comes on Glenn’s playlist, I can only hear Mum’s voice singing the lyrics and I choke up, picturing her so vividly in my mind. For the last year or so of Jacko’s life my ringtone for him was Time of My Life, from Dirty Dancing. I’d hear it daily when he rang me through the day, as he always did. It was quite literally, the one song I heard every single day without fail. Then when he was gone, suddenly the song was gone from my life. Until a week or two after he passed away, when I was in Coles grabbing some essentials. I was heading down the last aisle to go to the checkout when suddenly the song came through the speakers in my local Coles. I hadn’t heard a single other song that played on the speakers while I was there, then the notes to Time of My Life started and they were blasting at me loud and intrusively in my mind, and tears flowed. I quickly raced to the checkout and got out of there in record time, putting my sunnies on to hide my wet, red eyes. It isn’t always convenient when those certain songs hit you, but when they do the power of them is so intense and can render you powerless – at least that’s the effect I find music has on me.

When Jacko was sick we spoke about how he would let me know when he was visiting me, after he was gone. I told him I didn’t want him to come to me through a butterfly or bird and feather, like so often happens. I wanted something that was uniquely him, something quite frankly, that would bug me in the stirring way he always did, and when things happened do quickly and we never did get to plan his message method I was disappointed. I remember in the couple of days after I lost him that I felt especially empty when I thought about how I didn’t know how I would know when he was visiting me and I wished we had worked it out. That’s how much I believe in signs; I knew he would give them to me and wanted to have a plan for him to visit me when he was no longer Earth-side here with me. On Christmas Eve 2020, the day I brought his ashes home, I was arranging his urn in his special spot when my song to him came on the Bluetooth speaker in our bedroom. It’s an NKOTB song, called Stare At You. It isn’t one of their huge hits, but I think it’s their most beautiful song. When I tell the speakers at home “Hey Google, play New Kids on The Block on Spotify”, this song never comes on, until this day, when it came on in the bedroom. After that, I found whenever I activated the bedroom speaker, Stare At You would come on. That first day when it came on I knew it was Jacko playing it for me, assuring me that he was there with me as I brought him home to our home in his new form, knowing he would realise how difficult a task that was to face and wanting to support me while I did so. For months after he passed away, whenever I would get in his car and drive it, his funeral song would come on: A Little Bit Off by Five Finger Death Punch. If you don’t know it, I’d recommend listening to it.

The lyrics are powerful, at least for me and my family it is. It came out in 2020, during Covid, and the video clip was filmed in Las Vegas – our favourite city, where we got married. When Jacko discovered the song while he was sick it became his mantra and one he played every day. To this day, if it comes on our family stops and listens to it, recognising Jacko is visiting. He requested it be played for his funeral; the song that had to play as I carried his urn from the chapel and he said goodbye to everyone for the final time. Listen to the last line of the song and you’ll better understand the type of jokester Jacko was. That was his final message to the world. Music was definitely his catharsis. It wasn’t until months after his death that I finally realised that music was how Jacko was communicating with me. When it did dawn on me, I just laughed at myself and shook my head. Of course music would be his medium to communicate. Music was life to him and every occasion and every person had a song. Now when I hear one of the many songs that were a part of our life journey together, I know it’s him visiting me.

During the last year I’ve broadened my musical interests even more as Glenn has introduced me to new bands I’d never heard of before and new music is becoming some of my favourite to play. The power of music is an ever-evolving thing I find, and during each phase of life new music comes into our lives to accompany us on the path we’re currently travelling. I personally have a list of top ten favourite songs, but in truth, I can never finish at just ten. There is a song for every emotion, every person and every occurrence in my life and each song is special to me in it’s own way. I’d be interested to hear about some of your favourite music. Comment below with what you love and maybe we’ll all find some new favourite tunes in the recommendations.

Have a musically-filled happy weekend!

With Love,

Carol xx

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