If Music is the best medicine, what do you take with a Whiskey Lullaby?
So I went to see Brad Paisley on Saturday night at the Sleep Train Amphitheatre in Wheatland, California. When I say that I went “to see Brad Paisley,” I mean that I went to talk to him and photograph his show. Paisley contacted me after I had written a blog post regarding a seizure joke he made on live television. Paisley seemed genuinely apologetic during our online communications, but until I met him in person I doubted if he had even sent the messages.
When people ask me what is it like having epilepsy, I can now tell them about the Brad Paisley Experience. Having epilepsy is not normal. Having epilepsy is watching television and hearing one of your favorite musicians say something that trivialized a deadly health condition. You will want to protect your friends who have seizures and your friends who love country music. This is what it means to have epilepsy. You are protecting other people, because of something you have.
Epilepsy is electric and invisible. I started receiving electronic messages that were difficult to trust. “Hey, Brad here.” Dude kept writing. I mean, he wrote to me more about my blog posts than my mom. (Note to mom: You are falling behind Brad) That is what it means to have epilepsy. You are grocery shopping and you receive electronic surges out of nowhere. Sometimes the messages knock you down. Sometimes the messages are from Brad Paisley. You do not try to explain, because you know that nobody is going to believe you. Keep Calm and Shop On.
The most normal part about the Brad Paisley Experience was talking to Brad Paisley. This is clearly not normal either. I get that. I wish I could see a replay of my interactions from Saturday so you could see how badly I communicated with everyone except Brad Paisley, at least until I began photographing the show.
This is what I told him.
He reached out. Occasionally, someone will see me on the news or read something I wrote and contact me, but it is rare. It just so happens that Paisley is a well known artist. It means a great deal to me when anyone contacts me and I am grateful to have the opportunity.
We talked more about music, the show and our background. He is someone I respect and if our lives were different, I could see being friends with him. As people age, it is difficult to make new friends. I imagine that it is more difficult for celebrities.
This is what I did not tell him.
In ten days it will have been ten years since my dad shot himself. If my father had not committed suicide, I would not have become an epilepsy advocate. Next month, I will have had epilepsy for thirty years, and I had been silent for most of the time. I threw myself into suicide support groups and other related activities so that I could, in part, reduce my stress to prevent people from knowing that I had epilepsy. I wanted to keep my secret.
Dealing with my father’s suicide gave me the strength to deal with almost anything. Paisley’s duet Whiskey Lullaby reminds me of my father. The songs also reminds me to live life fully. When nobody was available, I was able to call on Paisley, or Lady Day or Coltrane… to help me Act Naturally.
One day I might be able to live naturally.
Note to Notes: On August 10, I added a new section on my old blog called Notes on a Blog. This is a stream of consciousness reference section to help me and readers.