Music healed me.

On April 3, 2009, I learned that my beautiful daughter had died at the home of a friend. She was only 25 years old and was my greatest challenge and one of my greatest loves (along with her brother). I did not think I would survive the moment, much less live to see 2023. It was unreal, yet it was real. It was a bad dream. It was the day I feared would come. The moment she was born, I became anxious. It was my job to keep her alive, and it was a job I took very seriously. But when she started to hang with the wrong crowd and started abusing substances, I couldn’t protect her. Oh, we tried. My God, how we tried. But you cannot control another person, and you cannot save them if they don’t want to be saved.

The grief almost killed me. My marriage ended. I was in a couple of very bad relationships, and then I married again. That marriage also ended. I became gaunt, and then I gained a lot of weight. I don’t know how I continued to work, but at times, work was all I had. I was so lost. After the failure of my second marriage, I moved in with my son. I slept a lot and did very little (other than work).

A woman I met who became a friend had lost two of her daughters in a house fire four years after my daughter died of an accidental overdose. We met through Facebook, but since she lived in my town, we also became friends in person. There were a few of us in town who met through Facebook, but I felt closer to her. One day I noticed that she shared a picture of her oldest daughter playing drums in a band. She mentioned a “rock school.” I responded that I wish they’d had something like that when I was young, because I had wanted to play music so much. I played piano, but I was never very good at improvisation. I had been in choir, but my voice was badly impacted by the neck fusion surgery I had 3 years before my daughter died.

She responded that the school also had adult students who could either just take lessons or take lessons and be in the band program. I was astounded! It was Frederick Rock School, run by Scott and Kela Marceron. (They are still successfully rocking, having survived the business crises of the pandemic.) Naturally, I didn’t think it was for me, because I thought I had little to offer. Instead, I encouraged my son to go to the school. He had always wanted to learn bass guitar.

He started taking lessons and soon was performing in a band at different venues around town with his fellow students. He was good! I was amazed at how quickly he learned, but it seems that their immersive techniques had that affect on most of the students. You could live out your dream of being a rock star in a very safe environment. He kept encouraging me to take lessons, as well.

So I bought a guitar and started taking some lessons. I’m a bad student as an adult, it turns out, but I kept at it. Guitar was very hard for me with the arthritis in my hands, and I couldn’t see myself getting good enough to play onstage. The instructor kept encouraging me. Then I found out that one of the bands really wanted to play “Sweet Home Alabama” but had no keyboard player. I asked if I could sit in with them. I practiced and practiced. I’ll never be Billy Powell, but I did alright.

On the day of the concert, having only practiced with the band a couple of times, I conquered my nerves and shaking hands and played decently. Of course, I berated myself harshly afterward that I hadn’t played perfectly, but others seemed to think I did fine. I ended up playing with another band that formed who wanted to play some more blues-oriented rock. I figured I had nothing to lose. It engaged a part of my brain that hadn’t been engaged in awhile, and the bonus was that my son joined the same band as their bass player.

So here we were, on stage together, playing live music. It was amazing! So what if we weren’t professional? So what if we weren’t perfect? We did just fine, and we had so much fun doing it.

Gradually I began to realize that I was smiling again. I was laughing again. I was thinking about something other than the deep pain I felt over the loss of my daughter. Although we both wished she were in the audience (or playing on stage with us), we were both healing. I made some amazing and lifelong friends there. I was surrounded by other adults who, like me, had once had a dream. We all got to live it out together.

Even better is the fact that my friend’s daughter is on her way to a career as a professional drummer. (She is incredibly talented! Just watch the video below.) Lots of musical careers have been and continue to be launched at Scott and Kela’s school on Industry Lane in Frederick, MD.

We never know what it will be that heals and restores us. We sometimes live through things that should kill us but don’t. If we are willing to get up every day and throw open the curtains, we never know what we might find outside those windows. For me, it was music. Although my son and I have moved away from Maryland, we still have some beautiful musical instruments. We just need to sit down to play again. I need to find that joy once more.

Please enjoy a few of my videos I was willing to share. Love, Jude

Jaded (cover) – Aerosmith (as played by Derailed)
my first gig, so be kind

Sean Pavlichek on bass
Chunky me on keyboards
Stefan Sandman (of Half-Heard Voices) on lead guitar
Erin McCleaf Markovich on vocals
(I don’t remember who else was in this lineup)

Scrimshaw playing “Love Gun” at Olde Town Tavern in Frederick, MD (with my awesome son on bass). They were very good!

Set by “Breakfast” – Morgan Lillard killin’ it on drums. She’s like a young Dave Grohl.

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About Me

A writer and solitary soul in the mountains of Western North Carolina.

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