After my wife stopped singing publicly due to health reasons, our pastor asked me to play the piano before services to help foster a more reverent atmosphere. Sitting at the piano, I launched into a well-known hymn only to quickly discover I wasn’t playing the melody.

Accompanying Gracie for years, I’d simply grown accustomed to hearing her sing the melody.

Glancing sideways at the Nashville church filling with hundreds of people, I forced myself to play the melodies of songs I’d known for a lifetime. Yet, the muscle memory in my hands kept reverting to the accompaniment. That ten-minute prelude cost me more musical stress than I’d experienced in years.

Accustomed to “accompanying,” caregivers often lose the melody and fail to speak in the first person singular. Like playing the piano, it takes practice—but we can learn to express our own feelings instead of directing every topic to our loved ones. We can learn to speak from our hearts and play our own melody.

You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them. —Maya Angelou

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