I’ll never forget one cold night in Michigan while I was on tour with Alan Jackson. A security man handed me a note passed along from a lady in the audience:
I am here tonight to hear one song, "It’s Not the End of the World." My son bought two tickets for this show, and he loved this song. He also bought these tickets a long way ahead of time before we knew he was sick with advanced cancer. He passed away last month after a very short illness. This song made him happy until the end, and that made me very, very happy. Tonight, I sit here alone with an extra ticket - so please make us happy and sing our song.
Before I received this note I was so pumped up and excited for the show. But the note just floored me. I gave the note to my manager and asked him to arrange for the lady to come backstage to my preshow meet-and-greet area. Soon, I spotted her walking up the hall toward me. She was so happy, her face was lit up with a thousand-watt smile. It was wonderful! I sang the song to her before I went on. The lady was so happy, and I thought perhaps I understood what she was feeling. In her heart, she knew her son was living a better life and that made me feel good in my heart.
Because of the emotion of that song, none of us will ever be the same again. I believe that song completely changed three lives that night. To the boy who had left and was looking down on us, it helped him find his way to the next life. To the mother, it allowed her to feel a certain acceptance and gladness for his leaving and eased the pain of her loss. And it taught me that it’s okay to be excited and high about being an entertainer privileged to bring happiness and gladness into people’s lives. It also taught me never to forget to keep my feet on the ground. . . and to always remember the things that come from the heart.
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