Patrick: Music will always be my connector, my escape, and my sanctuary…


My world has been turned upside down. This last spring, my Dad got sick. The man I had grown up admiring, the man that was always there for me, whether I wanted it or not, is gone. Just like that; healthy enough for me to argue with a few days before, and now he is just gone.  I feel more alone and lost than I ever have before, a part of me is gone, too, a gaping hole, larger than I thought possible. I can’t get that last squeeze he gave my hand, telling me that he’s still there, fighting, out of my body. He’s just gone.

In my last year of high school, I made the mistake of choosing a girl over all of my friends, and I paid a high cost for it. But nothing can or will compare to the pain, and emptiness, and loneliness I feel now.

Going through school has taken on a whole new meaning, as has music. I am no longer learning and growing as a musician for myself, I am also doing this for my Dad. Most people say that to get someone to believe in your dream, you must first believe in it yourself. That is the opposite for me. I did have the dream of being a musician and band director, but I had one set of parents fighting with me about it, and then my dad, who supported me since the time I had barely mentioned it.

PRiley018Performing is now the absolute hardest thing I have to do. I can no longer see his beaming, proud face in the crowd, or feel his embrace afterwards. I can no longer hear him tell me how proud he is of the young man I have become, and how much he loves hearing me play that nice, rose brass bell trombone he helped buy for me. But I can and will always feel him in me while I am playing, and it has broken my heart to feel that inside of me while he should still be here.

Other than the Big Man upstairs, my love for music is my driving reminder and connection to him, and I cannot let that go. Maybe he can now understand how music has touched my life and why it means so much to me; how it can connect me with others, and how it can carry me off to another, better world than this one (maybe, perhaps, the one I know he is in now).

Music is, and will always be simultaneously my connector, my escape, and my sanctuary.