[MP3 : 6 MB]
This was written in 1999 for two friends, a brother and a sister,
whose mother passed away of sclerdoma after a long battle.
I remember distinctly the moment of passing, because
I received an urgent cell phone call that the doctors were
saying she was critical. I was at church on a Sunday, and
I stepped outside to pray on a picnic bench for the family.
For about half-an-hour, I prayed and pleaded and wept. A deep
sense of sadness and mourning weighed on my spirit. Abruptly
and suddenly, at 4:30pm the sadness left me, like unconsciousness
fleeing a sleeping person who is shocked awake. I opened my eyes,
the tears stopped immediately, and I knew that there was no more
need to pray. I wasn't sure why, though. Part of me hoped that
she had made it through the critical moment, and would be with
us a little longer.
It was almost 24 hours before I got an update through
another friend. I learned that at that moment on Sunday
afternoon, she had passed away with her family gathered
around her bed.
A phrase began to nag me incessantly in the back of my mind...
"passed from death to life." I didn't know where it came from,
but it wouldn't go away. Surprisingly, it showed up in a
bible reading shortly thereafter, and I realized it was a
quote from the book of John.
Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me
has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.
- John 5:24 (New King James)
I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes
him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.
- John 5:24 (New International Version)
I sent that verse to one of my friends in a short encouraging
email, and she used it when she got up to speak at the memorial
The week before the memorial service, I sat down at the
keyboard and wrote the melody and most of the song.
The song just came pouring out on the piano keys.
I tried to write a bridge to complete the song, but just
couldn't do it. For some reason, it felt very... incomplete.
Or just... not ready.
For four years, it frustrated me. Periodically I'd pull
this song out and try to write that elusive bridge. I was
never satisfied with the alternate bridges I wrote. And since
it was incomplete, I never mentioned it even to my friends
whom I had written it for. In retrospect, I think that its
time hadn't come, and it was simply not ready to be sung.
The summer of 2003, I started to perform at the Open Mike
Nights at the Six String Cafe.
The second week I ever played at the
Six String Cafe, some crazy
events started to happen that had a major impact on my life, mainly
involving a friend I met at the Six String
(see archived posts on my
As part of this, I got in touch with an old high school friend
who was in Nashville, and found her in the middle of struggling
with the sudden death of a dear friend.
If there was ever a time for this song to emerge from its exile,
that was the time. It weighed on me such that when I woke up the
next morning, I sat down at the keyboard, recorded a quick take of
the piano and vocals, burned them to a CD, and sent it via overnight
mail to Nashville on my way in to work. It was recorded as-is,
without a bridge, in its original wording and structure.
After listening to the demo recording, the revelation came
that it did not need a bridge after all, and that the song
was already complete.
Within the next day or two, I showed up at the doorstep
of one of my old friends, and delivered a copy of the CD
along with the lyrics. "I wrote this song for your mom
several years ago, but I never told you about it because
for four years I've been trying to write the final piece..."
A rough recording like the rest on the site, but it
captures the meaning and the inspiration.