Owen was very sick and had been all of 2017 with a low platelet disorder. Just when we thought things couldn’t get any worse he suffered a seizure on Thanksgiving, a CAT scan showed a large mass in his head that was eventually diagnosed as inoperable glioblastoma – an inoperable brain tumor, stage four terminal cancer.
Owen stayed in hospitals until February when we were able to care for him at home. He didnt participate in any non-physical therapies until the very last days of his stay when a breakthrough occurred with music therapy. Owen loved music, playing guitar and singing in the school choir. However, he was very reluctant to play or sing in front of his parents and family. This changed in his first session of music therapy when he taught the therapist a favorite tune from choir. These sessions continued when Owen returned for follow-up treatments; it was clear that music brought him joy and peace – I know it was the same for me.
In his last three months with us Owen lost any previous self-consciousness about singing in front of and with family. With little or no encouragement, he would break into verses of pop, rock, church hymns, even Les Mis. This was another miracle in addition to the extra time we were given with him and there was more to come. One day apparently in response to a stressful moment in the house Owen sang out, “Calm down Mom, calm down, it’s time to calm downnnnn.” It was perfect timing. In the coming weeks we would hear this many times in his fine baritone, the last notes descending lower than any of us could reach. He knew what we needed to hear.
Owen’s time with us ran out on April 20, 2018. He died peacefully at the hospital surrounded by his family. In the past two years we’ve heard his song of advice and support often, always it seems when we need it most. In this and many other ways Owen lives on in my memory. “Calm down Dad, calm down. It’s time to calm down.” And so I can CALM DOWN withIN, with Owens encouragement and by his courageous example.