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Confessions From the Past

The Chapter About The Man Who Made You Cry


I’m not sure how well you remember or not, but two and a half years ago in a little Nashville studio in a little Nashville music school, a man you barely knew at the time made you cry because he insisted you were not ‘singing your songs.’
At the time, you thought he meant you couldn’t sing. What he really meant, you later found out, was that you weren’t singing with any emotion.

And you weren’t. He knew what he was talking about.

You spent the next couple months writing song after song with him, just hoping he’d come up to you after a show and tell you you’d done at good job and were really singing the words you’d written. And at your last performance, he did. And I really think that was a key moment in knowing that Music City was home for you.

For three months you wrote alongside this man, letting him critique your every heartstring written down as four chords and the truth. He taught you how to write outside the box and push past the limits you’d set for yourself. He started as someone who knocked you down in the beginning and ended up being someone who made you tougher because he knew you could build YOURSELF up, no one else. He was smart and fun and genuine and plays a major role in the shaping of your music dreams.

A little over a year ago, I’d say, as I write this to you on April 2, 2019, he was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer.

You went to all the benefit concerts and events where he spoke out on his diagnosis. You gave him hugs and prayed for him and told him you loved him. And, honestly, he seemed okay. He wasn’t sure how much time he had but he always seemed to be healthy enough to sit and chat or play a few songs, given a few missing words here and there.

The last time you saw him was the day after you broke up with your boyfriend of four years. He was having a benefit concert with some big names he’d played with over the years and you and your friend came in support. But what you hadn’t expected was for him to forget almost all the words to every song he sang. Words that he had written. Music he had created. He sat up on stage apologizing as the band kept playing and trying to help him remember the words to his own music. And all I could remember thinking was “I’ve got to write more. I’ve got to record more. I’ve got to take advantage of the fact that my mind is fully functioning.” It was so sad and strange to see this man forget words to songs he’d not only written, but played around the world for years and years. The man who taught you how to write music and lyrics, could not remember a single one of his own.

And today, the world lost him.

I will never understand the way that God works. I will never understand why my own father will soon not be able to walk because of a disease that steals away the muscles in his body, making it hard for him to do the simplest of things, let alone his favorite thing. I will never understand how some people devote their lives to health and fitness and then are diagnosed with a terrible illness that steals away both as if they’d never been catered to. And I will never understand why Rick’s words, as a professional writer and musician, were taken away from him. But I hope he has them now and is singing his own songs for all of heaven to hear.

When you first moved back to Music City, he had a get together with some alumni updating them on what had really been going on with his health. He expressed his anger and frustration but also his realization that all we’ve got as human beings is right now and it should never be wasted. He said he’d never felt closer to God and that even though some people would be mad with Him, he wasn’t.

“Whatever it is you’re going through, big or small, don’t ever think God isn’t looking at this moment you’re in right now. Because He is. He really, really is.”

If I could say one last thing to him, it would be that I am so grateful for our time together and all the things he’s taught me. I would tell him that I love him and that he impacted and inspired me so much. I would tell him that I’m going to start living in the moment. And writing more songs. And pushing myself again. Because that’s what he did.

Here he goes, making me cry all over again.