For someone who usually has no trouble finding words and expressing thoughts, I have internalized this story more than shared it. But it is truly extraordinary to have experienced it.

My dear friend and my steadfast artistic advocate, Jesse, had been helping his mother Deborah, as she lived with cancer for the 2nd time. Not only was he there for her medically to get resources and physically be there for her, but also in creating “make a wish” types of experiences. It was touching to witness and I honestly just hope my children care for me in this way someday.

One of Deborah’s wishes was to record a song she’d written recently, Heart Comes Home, but did not have the ability to perform herself. They approached me about it together. I listened to the demo Jesse helped her record and while a big departure from my typical projects, the song had good bones.

I met with her to better understand her vision and what the lyrics meant to her. She told me beautiful stories about when Jesse was a baby, how he came into the world, and the home they built as a family. I helped her pull more imagery into her lyrics with those memories. From there, we booked time with my dear friend Omar Vallejo at 512 Studios. Cole Grambling and Haydn Vitera brought their talent on piano and strings, and we adapted and recorded the song.

This was a gift for her to have excitement, artistic expression, and something to look forward to with her son; not to mention the recording of her idea itself. It was a gift for me to have known her better, to push myself in ways I honestly didn’t know I needed, and to love with an open heart. It was a gift for Jesse in the creation of stories that live on and a rare and beautiful chance to share music, something they were both so passionate about. I’m speculating, of course, but it seemed bountiful even if the whole reason this was happening was tinged with melancholy. Lots of “big feelings” as I would say to my 5-year-old. So what did I learn?

I am gracefully reminded to live full out by watching someone actually do it in front of me. Thank you, Deborah, for being the bright light that you were and making Jesse in your image. I will never be the same.

She’s on her way
Neither going nor arriving late
Baby boys stay your babies forever
We all came with her
Painted one more picture
Together the grandest gesture
Of love, of kindness
Of knowing but not showing
It burns us too
Being so close in the fire with you
So close in the fire with you

She won’t feel much now
The weight and the light
In a fight for her mind
Is this door the opening kind
But I cannot cross with her
So she gave me the picture
In hopes I’d remember
The love and the kindness
Forget that it burned me too
Being so close in the fire with you
So close in the fire with you