SLIP AWAY represents a fundamental turning point in my life. Before my mother’s death, I was working as an advertising creative director who was beyond burned out—and had been for years. I was so burned out, I had no inspiration left to imagine what might come next.
Then, my mother was diagnosed with inoperable cancer. I wrote this song for her, but something always came up when I wanted to play it. Then, I was with her the day she died and was able to sing it as a round, over and over, as she lay in coma. The impact on both of us was profoundly transcendent. That experience led me to hospice. In hospice I discovered chaplaincy. And in chaplaincy, I discovered a calling to work with the dying and their families, which I followed up to my retirement in 2015.
LINK to download a FREE Slip Away MP3 file
THE REST, as they say, is history. It took me nine years of graduate school and clinical training to become a board certified chaplain. Soon afterward, I was fortunate enough to be hired at Sacred Heart Medical Center as they were beginning their Palliative Care Program—essentially an in-house hospice that offered hope and continuing care for patients who had exhausted all medical options and were dying.
Before Palliative Care, these patients would be sent home with little support. With it, they and their families were offered emotional and spiritual support along with carefully calibrated medical treatment to control their pain and to maintain their dignity and quality of life for as long as possible.
It was a high honor for me to be part of this program as it grew into an integral part of the hospital culture. By the time I retired in 2015, it had grown from one half-time physician and a nurse manager to a team of four doctors, two nurse practitioners, three nurse managers, a social worker, a music-thanatologist and two chaplains.
SLIP AWAY was the beginning of this profoundly rich conclusion to my working life.
I hope it is of some comfort to you should you ever need it.
SLIP AWAY was recorded in 1996. My brilliant musician friend Jeff Neiman offered to do the orchestration. Another friend, Jon Fay, had just built a digital recording studio in his basement and Slip Away was his first project. Teressa Casaceli was recommended to help with the vocals and did a marvelous job. And, I did my best to carry the rest.
ABOUT THE COVER PHOTO
ALTHOUGH this photo appears to be taken at sunset, I shot it at dawn while standing on the shore of the Ganges River in Varanasi, India. Varanasi is an ancient city held sacred by devout Hindus—where thousands go every year to die and be cremated.
I love the unintended symbolism of the image, where what appears to be the end of one day is actually the beginning of another.
This is the uncropped version of the original photo, showing worshippers in boats going out on the river to pray.