In response to a post on MetaFilter
Back in 2008, when I was diagnosed with cancer I made a damn bucket list. While, I hate the term, I was scared and there were so many things I hadn’t experienced yet at the whopping age of 33. It was a fairly short one, but one of the most important things on the list to me was seeing Willie Nelson in concert.
I spent a lot of 2008 and 2009 in and out of the hospital. Between cancer related issues and repeated infections (which they never found the cause of) I spent more time in the hospital than out. A couple months into 2009, we heard that Willie was coming to a couple hours from our home.
Now, we knew the chance I was going to be in the hospital was large, but my husband bought the tickets anyway, and we waited. June 2, 2009 in Glen Allen, Virginia. Coming through May I was in the hospital, a lot. I just knew there was no way Willie was happening.
Then, my body seemed to magically get better, the infections went away, I was able to move a bit more. I was down to just a small patch of healing incision from my months earlier surgery. We were going to do it.
We left for the show, hours early, knowing I needed to get there in plenty of time for us to slowly wheel me in, so it didn’t aggravate any of the painful areas on my incision, or my flesh where the infections had been. Fear of the heat made us carry water filled battery operated fans for me, as well.
We got to the grounds, found a very close space, a handicapped one that was magically still empty, got my wheelchair out and got in line to go in. The gate crew saw how gingerly my husband was having to move me and let us go in a few minutes early.
We settled into the general admission field, me in my wheelchair, my husband in his camp chair, and waited. A good sounding local band opened up, and as their set was winding down, a bus pulled up directly behind the stage. The crowd murmured, the lights came up, it was intermission.
We didn’t move. I was afraid to attempt to go anywhere for a drink or the bathroom, that we’d never get back into the spot we had. Then, without any warning, he walked on stage. No pyrotechnics, no smoke and mirrors, Willie just walked to his spot, in front of his microphone, with trigger around him, and strummed the first note.
Tears streamed down my face and I completely lost myself in his music. Willie is one of just a couple musicians that transcend genre to me. One of the few that I would listen to on a dime store kid’s toy, as there is something just magical about him.
For two hours this 76 year old long haired man didn’t stop playing. He played his music, some other country, some blues, some rock, a mix of music that no other musician I have ever seen would put together. The entire time the whole crowd was wrapped in Willie’s spell.
When he finally finished the show, he walked off the stage, directly to his bus, and it pulled out immediately. The crowd cheered as he drove away, finally seemingly snapping back to real life, and starting the walk out.
For just a couple minutes, my husband and I sat there, waiting until it was safer for me to move, holding hands and smiling at one another. Throughout the show I had cried on and off. Joy at finally seeing one of my heroes, sadness at all we had been through to get me to that point, and just pure elation at the amazing amount of love those around us had for the man on stage.
Right before we left, I kissed my husband and thanked him for having faith that I would be well enough to make the show, even when it looked like it would never be possible. Willie’s music is part of a soundtrack to my life and I can’t imagine him playing any guitar other than Trigger.