By: Emily B.
Getting up early on a Monday is lousy, but getting up on a vacation Monday means the start of an exhausting and sleep deprived day. I’ve been told that sacrifices should be made for other people, yet sacrifices take more mental stamina than I thought I could give at 7:00 A.M. Still, I’ve also been told that people are like candles, and we must burn ourselves up to light others up. 
Delmar Gardens was like a small village painted green, out of which memories of walking with family were born, and memories of a childhood were lost. This was the destination in mind as my mother, sister, and I piled into a shining red van. This time Delmar Gardens would be a different experience from the last 100 times that I had visited.  Those times, my grandfather would be waiting in his tiny room, trying to recall who the familiar faces in photographs. I would rush in, sing songs and set up decorations as he had intelligent conversations with my mother. He was the only genius I’d ever met. 
The car ride to Delmar was familiar and the conversations were standard, but no one dared to bring up what we were all thinking, what a shame Grandpa won’t be there to watch us sing. Hands quivering, I hesitated before walking into the beautiful building with cheerful lights. How could a home look the same, when an obvious difference could be felt from within? 
I pushed open the glass doors to a crowd of women and men, each displaying wrinkles and scars of all different forms. Although many of them couldn’t remember that they have lived through decades of rich history; they are wiser than I am.
My family and I walk to a makeshift stage, carrying bags of wires and mics, and began to unpack our gadgets that seem to be unfamiliar to our audience. The stage is a comfort zone, with the mic calling me to belt out a song, and the amp always more than willing to create balance between my voice and the instruments. These moments when it was just me in a spotlight were the most exciting and these moments when I was in the spotlight were the most nerve wracking.
Of course, I didn’t have a spotlight or an audience of over 200, I only had the eyes and ears of 15 eager souls. Still, it made no difference to me, I would still be performing. My hands twisting the sides of my dress, my feet swaying my body like a willow tree in the breeze, my mother started the music. What came next was nothing out of the ordinary for me. After each song came another. The nurses passing by to check on the residents gawked at our performance, taking in every ounce of talent that we gave out. With my sister beside me, our voices synchronizing and sacrificing our vocal chords so that we could hit that one perfect note. And it was bittersweet.
            I knew that when I looked around Bill Drost, the most enthusiastic man at Delmar, would not be in the front row, but would merely be replaced by another person with lost memories. But, oh, how the music would bring them back as they remembered every word of “Amazing Grace”. The music was a recollection that they could grasp and hold onto, until they watched me push open the glass doors and leave the building and the crowd of scarred, yet beautiful, people.

I realized that singing was more than just a sacrifice of my free Monday morning, it was honoring the memory of my grandfather. I could have closed my eyes again, cuddling under the cozy blankets, but I got out of bed that morning. I remembered that as a person, I am also a candle, and I must first burn myself up, to light others up. 

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