In Uncategorized on November 18, 2010 at 1:46 am
When Trillium Gift of Life Network (the people who are in charge of arranging organ donation in Ontario) asked me to speak and sing at the “Celebration of Life” service and medal presentation to honour Organ and Tissue donors and their Families, I JUMPED at the chance.
But I hadn’t any idea it would be quite such an emotional night. Of course, in theory I understood it would be somber. But I wasn’t quite prepared for the overwhelming human experience of sitting amongst the families of the donors. Of hearing them reminisce and cry and accept the medals for their loved ones. It was, as Tom said, “like attending 75 memorials at once.”
I told them my story from the podium, I let them have an inkling of how my life was, and how now it is so simple to sing and to breathe since transplant. Trillium asked me to sing “I’ll Be Seeing You”, a great wartime hit about missing the one you love. Later, after the medal ceremony and slide show I sang “Star Dust” Carmichael’s great tune that speaks of the “memory of loves refrain”. And the memories were great in the room. You could feel them everywhere. All sizes and colours and sexes and religions had gathered there. And to be part of that tapestry? I can’t explain how that felt. Intense?
So sitting there, seeing the families, and feeling their grief in the air was intense. Seeing a little girl and her Dad accept the medal for her Mom? There was no use in trying not to cry. In theory I think of these brave and generous souls often. But the act of seeing the families in the real — well it was overwhelming. That in their darkest hours they saw fit to allow others to live? Amazing.
I won’t lie: at moments I felt guilty. Felt guilty that I was sitting there beside my husband while they did not have their loved one. But to some of the ones to whom I spoke, at least, hearing me sing helped them in some measure realize the difference their loved one made. Some good out of tragedy. Sometimes the sorrow seemed overwhelming within this community of families with a common bond… I can’t imagine how awful it feels to be a grieving family member. But BECAUSE of the generosity of someone like them, MY family is not grieving. And for that there is no words. Just know that I won’t ever forget and I have now an even greater idea of the cost that my happiness comes at.
And for those of you wondering, Yes, it is rather difficult to sing when you’ve been trying to hold back tears for an hour! But I did it with the help of my stalwart pianist…and a very special set of lungs. I can only hope it brought some meaning to the attendants. Their stories certainly touched me. In fact, I am forever touched by them.
In Uncategorized on November 18, 2010 at 1:21 am
A lot has been happening.
The Two-Year Anniversary of my lung transplant was a great day. Not only did it mark the anniversary of when I got my second chance in life, but I also sent all the remaining oxygen tanks in my basement back, AND…. at 12:30 pm I was signing a deal with a great record company called Justin Time who will be releasing my new record! As I signed on the dotted line I looked down at my watch and said, “Wow. Two years ago right now a surgeon was signing my chest, right before surgery!” I guess it is a good day for signing! And for singing. The show was a great showing of friends and family. I even had one of my respirologists in the front row (no pressure!). Some special guests came down to sit-in on stage: it was just a great day that I am so grateful to have had the chance to experience. Thank you to my donor, whoever you were. Thank you!
A little later that same week I actually hit the dirt when my pony tripped. Down she went onto her knees and then continued to roll right over on her side. Luckily the ground was soft, and as she started to roll on top of my leg I let out an “Ow” and I *swear* to you that she rolled off of me when she heard that. I’ve always known she was special! But, whoa, scary. Speaking of which, there’s a lot of hunting going on near the horse farm of late, so I’ve come running home a couple of days when I start hearing shots ring out. They are hunting deer, but you know… you never can be too careful!
We even made it to the Royal Winter Fair this year. I was self-conscious about wearing my big mask indoors there, but you know, a lot of people –especially in the barns– were envious and asked where I got it! We had a nice time watching the horse show and there was even a Dressage (sort of a “horse dancing” routine) to a live jazz singer who was dressed as a flapper! What a gig that must be!
Anyhow, lots of busy-ness here, what with the record and all. It’s set to be released in May of 2011. AND, to add to the musical excitement I got to record with a living idol, Bucky Pizzarelli when he was in town: we recorded a bunch of songs. What a thrill to sing with someone who’s worked for Benny Goodman and Les Paul and has backed up a lot of my female vocalist idols of the 1940s! Just a thrill. Sounds great too, though I have no idea when it will be released! See what I mean? BUSY!
In Uncategorized on November 1, 2010 at 9:55 pm
…and you’re invited!
Alex & Her Alleycats
The Reservoir Lounge
52 Wellington Street East
7-9pm, $5 ( to help pay the band )
November 4th 2008 was the morning that my pager went off and a new life began for me and my family. Transplant patients are very into milestones. That was two years ago now. I really feel so grateful everyday and am celebrating the best way ever, by using my donated lungs to sing with!
It’s been a crazy busy month which ended with me having a bad cold. I somehow managed to perform a couple gigs at the tail end of the bug, win a costume contest as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, and go barrel racing… Which might be why I feel so tired today! I have to remind myself to slow down because I often cram my days so full just because I try and squeeze as much as I can from life: cause every day is a gift. I truly feel that.
Along those lines, I’ll be breaking out the waterproof mascara to sing at an event this month in Toronto to honour donors and the families of Organ Donors. What thrill. Yes… a seriously important day to sing!
And just for kicks, here is the rather hilarious video of me doing a barrel race at the “barrel racing for babies” clinic: