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Never Alone

317. Never Alone

As I wandered the halls of the nursing home where I worked, one of the things I often did was to stop and create a song with a resident. One day I came upon a woman sitting in the hallway and crying out in distress. I knew she was often confused and sometimes disruptive. I walked toward her with my guitar, saying, “Agnes, what’s the matter?” She looked at me and said, “Oh I don’t know. I’m never really alone.”

I said, “That sounds like the first line of a song. Let’s write it together,” and I sang those words twice. “I’m never really alone. I’m never really alone.” And then I stopped and said, “But Agnes, why not? Why aren’t you ever really alone?” Agnes looked around and said, “There’s always somebody here.” I said, “Perfect—it’s even the right rhythm—listen,” and I sang the third line of the song. Then I said, “We’ll end with the line we started with,” and sang it.

Now we had the chorus and I invited her to sing with me the four lines: I’m never really alone; I’m never really alone. There’s always somebody here, and I’m never really alone.”

We wrote a verse together and I asked her to tell me if the line I wrote was true. I sang, “Sometimes I feel really lonely.” And then I paused for a second and then went on with, “Sometimes I feel really left.” At that point Agnes reached for my arm and said, “That’s it—that’s how I feel.” I smiled and nodded and continued singing, “Sometimes I feel so very sad—then I remember, I remember,” and we were back to the chorus again. Agnes and I sang that song together for a number of years. It became our song of connection.

(Part 2 of this story continues tomorrow. Agnes’ name has been changed.)

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