Adam Ezra and Bruce Fredericks
88+ Ways Music Can Change Your Life, published by Keep Music Alive, is a compilation of over 150 inspirational stories & quotes from musicians, music educators and music lovers from all over the world. Included are a number of stories from Grammy winning and Platinum selling artists & composers. The authors have given Music In A Word permission to post contributions to the book and we are thrilled to present one below.
We were touring through New Jersey and Pennsylvania when I got a call from a guy named Jerry. He said his friend, Terri, was a huge fan who was currently losing her battle with cancer. She was too sick to come out to a show, and he asked if I could possibly stop by her house and visit with her for a bit. I didn’t know Jerry or Terri, but decided to have the band drop me off in Jersey on their way back home to Boston so I could show up at Terri’s house for a surprise visit.
I got to the house and Terri’s husband, Bruce, met me at the door. He looked nervous. I walked in and there were friends and family milling around. They all looked nervous too. Terri was upstairs in bed. She hadn’t gotten out of bed in days. She hadn’t eaten in days. Things were pretty bad.
I sat down and made small talk for a while with some of Terri’s friends, and after a bit, Bruce came down and told me she was ready for me to come see her. I grabbed my guitar and went up the stairs. I walked into the room and this very pale, frail woman was lying in a hospital bed. She looked listless. When I leaned over the bed, she opened her eyes and smiled at me. She had a beautiful smile, even in the midst of her suffering. I said, “Hey Terri. Would you like me to play you a song?” She nodded yes. I began to play a slow, quiet song. She closed her eyes and smiled as I played. When I finished, I said, “another?” She smiled and nodded yes. After about three songs, she said, “I think I’m ready to go downstairs now.”
Bruce and Terri’s friend, Rachelle, helped lift Terri out of bed and brought her downstairs to a couch in the living room where friends and family were gathered, waiting reverently for Terri to join them. They sat her on the couch, propped up with pillows. I sat next to her and asked her for a request. I forget which song she chose, but when I finished, she requested another.
Five to six songs in, she began to sing along. Eight to ten songs in, she asked for some food. An hour after that, she asked for seconds. She began telling stories of how she and Bruce met.
Terri was funny! We spent six precious, unexpected, hours… all of us singing, laughing, and crying together. Terri died later that week. I still remain in awe of the incredible experience we all shared that day and still think about her often.
Adam Ezra is a Boston based musician and songwriter. His tours with his band The Adam Ezra Group. The Adam Ezra Group is currently touring and playing grassroots charity events through Adam’s non-profit organization “RallySound”. To find out more, please visit: www.AdamEzra.com.
What follows is a beautiful narrative from Terri’s husband, Bruce, about their experience with Adam.
We first heard the Adam Ezra Group (AEG) on a family ski vacation in New Hampshire. We all loved the music and bought the CD. Since we live in New Jersey, we figured it was unlikely we would get to see them again, being so far from their home base of Boston. Time passed and about 3 ½ years into Terri’s breast cancer, she saw that Adam was coming to the World Café Live in Philly. We grabbed our friends, Rachelle and Wayne, caught the show and immediately remembered why we fell in love with Adam’s music. Terri and Rachelle talked about bringing AEG to play at a friend’s barn and even contacted Adam’s agent to start working the details. Unfortunately, after many ups and downs over 5+ years of breast cancer, Terri was on a painful decline. In November of 2013, we heard that Adam and his group were coming to a bar very close to us. But Terri’s decline was continuing. As it got closer, I put the word out to friends and family to go and see Adam for us and bring Terri’s love and spirit. What I didn’t know was that my longtime friend, Jerry, had contacted Adam and asked if he would stop by to see Terri the day after his show. I’m still amazed to say that Adam agreed without hesitation.
The Sunday after the show, I gathered about a dozen close friends and family to be part of Adam’s visit. Unfortunately, Terri was in excruciating pain that entire day. When Adam showed up, I quickly explained the situation. At that time, Terri was upstairs and had 3 people working on her, constantly, for hours trying to alleviate her pain and bring comfort. She could barely communicate. Waiting downstairs, Adam kept saying, “No problem – I have all day; take your time”.
I had not told Terri that Adam was coming, so I went to the bedroom and whispered in her ear that Adam Ezra was downstairs and wanted to say hello. She closed her eyes and became very still. After a moment, she quietly said, “ask him to come up in 15 minutes”. About 20 minutes later, Terri’s best friend, Rachelle, came downstairs and asked Adam to come up. Guitar in hand, Adam climbed the steps and quietly entered the room. Terri almost instantly went from her painful state, to a quiet, relaxed calm. She smiled softly as Adam spoke to her and held her hand. Adam played several songs as Terri became more and more at ease; the soft smile remained on her face and gradually overtook her whole body.
After a few songs upstairs, Terri asked to be carried downstairs where we sat together for six hours! Adam played every song Terri asked for. At one point, Terri asked Adam to play a sing-a-long. This was amazing, because Terri had not sung with me for well over a year saying that the cancer had made it too difficult. Now, here she was, only days before her passing and she was actually singing along with Adam.
The day continued as we sat around and talked about all sorts of things with Adam, as if we’d known him all our lives. Then, Adam provided the most beautiful gift Terri and I could receive. He began to draw out of us, the story of how we met and fell in love. As Terri and I recounted it, it brought us back to the feelings that drew us together in the beginning. And we remembered, again, how we actually had a true “lightning bolt moment.” At that moment, it completely shifted our relationship and interactions from “caregiver and patient” to “head over heels in love husband and wife”.
Terri’s process of death and transition was a beautiful love filled process. This man who did not even know us, brought Terri and all of us to the right place with his generous loving soul and heartfelt talented music. All the friends and family who were there have been changed forever by this experience, and I am forever indebted to Adam for his gift. As everyone thanked him that day, he responded to each that it was he who got so much more that day than he gave.
Since then, Adam has written a song called “You Today” that beautifully captures the feelings of that day (below). I encourage everyone to support Adam and artists everywhere who pour their hearts and souls into their craft so that all our lives can shine a little brighter, making some of our most difficult times more bearable. Thank you, Adam Ezra, from the bottom of my heart.
Bruce Fredericks lives in Pennington, New Jersey.
Reprinted by permission from Keep Music Alive Publishing – Copyright 2015
50% of the proceeds from all book and ebook sales of “88+ Ways…” will be donated to foundations providing music instruments and lessons to schools and communities in need.