To me, music is the perfect language. Beyond mere words, it speaks to us in crescendos and valleys, an ever-changing, liquid speech that allows us to convey what we can scarcely articulate. Through a haze of pain and confusion, music allows me to reach Namine’s heart. To stop the fear, the tears, and all this misery: to say I am here. Whatever may come, I am here. My love is enough.

When Namine woke up, she was lost. Only barely coming out of a drug-enforced sleep, her first words to me post-procedure were “Daddy! Get – me – out – of – here – NOW!” Can’t say I blame her, either. At times, she was barely comprehensible, crying so hard from pain and fear that only Jessica and I could understand her, pleading to be able to go home. To get away from this harsh place, this place of bad memories.

Namine is a daddy’s girl, but even the best-behaved daddy’s girl can be distraught and inconsolable. But Namine and I share something more; a love of music. And not just music in general – there are a few certain songs that I sing to her, that we sing together. I can’t explain it; I only know that when I sing to Namine, everything else fades. My worries, her pain: all gone.

Raising my voice a little (but not shouting, not angry, just trying to cut through her screams), I ask: “Namine, would you like me to sing to you?” She nods, shaking and crying, but no longer crying hard. The promise of the music we share is more; this bond is stronger than the binding the pain has on her.

Her voice is still raspy from being decannulated, but I have no trouble hearing her. “Sunshine.”

So I sing “You Are My Sunshine.” This song carries great emotion, weight, and meaning for me; my parents sang it to me when I was young. The song takes me back. I know that it means as much to Namine as it does to me, because she is no longer crying, not even whimpering. For a brief moment in time, there are no tubes or wires connected to her; there is no pain, no misery. There is only us.

The moment ends, as all moments do. But it stays with us; it is a part of our memory now, and so it is part of us. The pain is not gone, but faded a bit. Retreated, perhaps, its strength somehow diminished. Knowing we are not alone helps. Knowing we are loved, that we have help, that we have strength in others, in turn gives us strength. Love and music light our lives and keep the darkness at bay. With them, we can hold on and fight just a little bit longer.

Husband. Daddy. Programmer. Artist. I'm not an expert, I just play one in real life.
  • Michele

    You, Paul, are such a blessing to your daughter and to all of us.

  • Jon Eiche

    “You Are My Sunshine” was the favorite song your Grandma Eiche sang to me and my siblings when we were young. That’s why your Mom and I sang it to you. So it’s been passed down for several generations now.

  • Iliana

    So very touching. “You Are My Sunshine” is also the song my mother sang to my brother and I when we were children, substituting in our pet names for the word “Sunshine”.