To Paul McCartney, Whose Music Has Made a Difference in My World of Chronic Illness
Dear Sir Paul,
It was wonderful to meet you tonight. It was wonderful to see my idol standing right in front of me across the baseball field. It was wonderful to hear the songs of my childhood. I want to say thank you for the experience and for giving me hope.
My name is Karen Richards, and I love the Beatles and you. I know you have heard this a million times, but I am your biggest fan. Your music has helped me in my fight.
My fight is never ending. I have been sick my entire life. I have many life-threatening illnesses and have had 19 surgeries. Eight of those surgeries were brain surgeries. I spent my childhood and now my teenage years in the hospital. The day I turned 13, I was bed-bound with a spinal leak.
One of the conditions I have causes severe allergic reactions. At the concert tonight, someone was smoking, and I had an allergic reaction. My throat started to close and I stopped breathing. I had to give myself an EpiPen, which is a big shot in my leg. I was then taken away in an ambulance. I stopped breathing when “Yesterday” started playing, one of my favorite songs… I cried as they strapped me down to the stretcher, not just because I was having trouble breathing, but because I was missing my favorite song.
It was in this moment that I took a deep breath and reminded myself of your message.
Tonight, you said you wrote “Blackbird” to inspire hope during the civil rights movement. Obviously, my situation is different. But I am a teenager who is constantly fighting to survive. I am a teenager who wants to have good times with my friends but has to stay home because I am too sick to go out. I am a teenager who spends more time in the hospital than I do at school. I am a teenager who has looked the grim reaper straight in the eyes and told him to go away. I am a teenager who doesn’t worry about boyfriends or gossip but worries about making it through the year alive.
Part of this fight is not only surgery and lots of doctors visits — it also includes my mentality.
I know and have accepted I have broken wings, but with your music I have learned to fly away. I want to thank you for teaching me to fly despite my broken wings. I want to thank you for giving me what no one else could: hope.
I truly believe you are an angel, sir Paul. I believe you are an angel sent by God to give hope to the hopeless. Sitting in the hospital, my throat closing again, I replayed “Blackbird” in my head. As it felt like I was being suffocated, I dreamed of flying away into the cold black night. I refused to acknowledge my broken wings, and I flew. I have had 19 surgeries, and through every one your music has been there for me. There is no real way to articulate how much this means to me… The English language just was not made for that… For now, until I can find the words, I will just say thank you.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for making a difference in my world and helping me learn to fly despite my broken wings.
Karen A. Richards aka Molly Jones
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Lead photo source: Paul McCartney’s Facebook page