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My Song: "Rise to Me" Helped me Maintain Hope While my Brother was in a Coma

Joined: 6/6/2012
Posts: 4

It’s a strange feeling, knowing a loved one's life is hanging in the balance. It is even stranger when you can go into the hospital and see that loved one, small and debilitated in the metal bed, tangled under a mess of tubes and wires, but moving and breathing all the same. When my older brother fell from a building and sustained a traumatic brain injury, this was exactly my experience. Kent was in a coma, on the cusp of life, and one song kept me from slipping under the darkness as well.
During the time in which Kent was unconscious, it was impossible to draw solace from my family, who was shaken and devastated right along with me. I felt utterly alone. But one day, because of one song, that changed. My dad and I had been visiting Kent in the hospital, and we were getting restless. Time ticked away, and Kent remained asleep. On the drive home, my dad turned on the radio. He said he wanted to play me a song called Rise to Me, by The Decemberists. A slow, silky melody poured from the radio, and even through my despondent haze, it reached me. I sank into the song, felt the notes wrap around me, and allowed myself to breathe. The music took me far away, to a world where the sun shone in bright gasps and families stayed happy and intact forever. The most striking lyrics were part of the chorus: "And boy, you are going to stand your ground. They rise to you, you blow them down." My dad said it reminded him of Kent, of his defiance, resilience, perseverance. And in that moment, I wasn't thinking about how the odds were stacked against my brother --I was thinking about Kent's defiance, resilience, perseverance.
Eventually, Kent woke up. And for the next several months, Kent worked at relearning how to walk, read, and eat. It was indescribably hard to watch my older brother strive to regain the abilities of a child--but each night I’d play that same song, and feel that same sense of peace. At a time when the ground beneath me felt like a violent, thrashing ocean, it was nice to have some sort of constancy.
Now, a year and a half since the accident, my brother has recovered miraculously. But just like what happened is a part of my identity, the words "rise to me" have become a part of me. Whenever I am up against any sort of challenge, I tell myself, "Things are rising to you. It's a part of life. The trick is to stand your ground. They rise to you, you blow them down." And it works. Sometimes I write the word "rise" on my wrist, as a reminder to never be intimidated. And every once in a while, I close my eyes and listen to the song, letting it slip over me like silky sheets, letting it lift me up, reminding me to rise.
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