Laughter may be the best medicine, but music soothes a soul.
In my Mom’s final days on earth she asked for the 3Ms of morphine, martinis and Marlboros to comfort her. When the hospice nurse wouldn’t allow cigarettes in her hospital room, I gave Mom the best M of all: music.
On New Year’s Eve, Mom and I watched the PBS special featuring the New York Philharmonic orchestra playing classics from George Gershwin. I could see Mom’s frail body finally relax a little as the calming sounds washed over her.
For the next 28 days, we kept Mom’s room tinged with the sounds of big band and piano. The night Mom died, she was at home with family gathered together and the sound of Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” playing in the background. It was a peaceful time, just the way Mom wanted.
Nancy Emmick Panko, a retired nurse who lives in Fuquay-Varina, used music to reach a young patient lingering in a coma from a traumatic head injury.
“I kept the radio tuned to his favorite station when I worked with him,” said Panko, author of “A Journey of Healing” published in the October edition of “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Find Your Inner Strength.”
Another of Panko’s stories of how music can bring comfort was published in “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Hope & Miracles,” which was released in February.
In the story “The Last Dance,” Panko blends the sweet romance of her parent’s love of dancing to Glenn Miller music with a tranquil moment from their memorial service.
Dori Staehle found healing in prayer and the sound of a drum. Staehle’s painful journey began in 2011 when a co-worker shouted, “Dori, Look out!”
Moments later, Staehle was on the ground. She had been hit by a rider on a 10-speed bicycle zipping through a crowd. Staehle seemed to brush off the impact from the freak accident and continued working.
The next day, Staehle felt pain that she discovered later was nerve pain caused from Tarlov cysts (abnormal sacs filled with cerebrospinal fluid) that developed on her spine.
It took Staehle three years to heal from her injuries.
“I had pain in seven different parts of my body and was frustrated that I couldn’t do things that were once normal,” said Staehle, 56, who lives in Fuquay-Varina with her husband.
The darkest moment in Staehle’s life brought her to her knees in prayer for a way to heal herself and others. When she heard God’s words, “I already did,” Staehle remembered her drum collection. It includes nine djembes and dozens of percussion instruments she had used in her consulting work and volunteer efforts as a drummer for New Horizons Fellowship church’s praise band.
It didn’t take long for Staehle to pick up the beat again and drum her way back to good health.
“When I am playing, I can feel the presence of the Holy Spirit, especially on Christian tunes,” Staehle said.
Calling herself a “Chief Encouragement Officer,” Staehle established the business, Rock the Next Stage. She previously ran Next Stage Educational Services, a business that booked and promoted local bands and also include therapeutic drumming.
As Staehle began speaking about her healing experience, friends encouraged her to tell her story in a book.
At first, Staehle was hesitant to talk about her painful childhood and the physical pain that came years later from the accident. As the words started to flow, Staehle finished her book, “Find Your Divine Rhythm: A Creative’s Success Formula” in five months.
The book was released as a Kindle edition on March 6 and ranked as a No. 1 best-seller in Amazon.com’s Coaching and Mentoring category.
Staehle is using the book and her coaching abilities to help others, including Katie Lund of Virginia Beach, Virginia, who said she called on Staehle for support when she hit a rough patch.
“She’s great at listening and giving encouragement,” said Lund, who used Staehle’s practical tips to take the first steps in opening a business.
The tips in Staehle’s book include praying, listening to music and reading the Bible: “Keep the faith, it’s never too late to start over.”
▪ Dori Staehle’s book “Find Your Divine Rhythm: A Creative’s Success Formula” is available for $3.49 on Kindle through Amazon. Go to rockthenextstage.com.
▪ “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Hope and Miracles,” which includes “The Last Dance” written by Nancy Panko, is available for $9.99 on Amazon. Panko will read excerpts from “The Last Dance” at the Read Local Book Festival May 16 and 17 in Durham. Go to www.chickensoup.com or nlep.weebly.com.