Dear Eric Church,
In the wake of all things evil this week, and that bad actor who has no name; I wanted you to know a few things. Because seeing you broken breaks me. I think you need to know about the lives you’ve saved. Specifically the only one I can speak for, my own.
I have been a fan for about 4-5 years. I won’t allege that I was there in the beginning. (I hate long hair on guys). Ha. The first time I heard you sing live, I felt a chill that scared me. A chill that said, something tragic is here because no legends live unblemished. It was like hearing Joplin and knowing, this just can’t be. I remember saying that to the people I was with. This is a living legend and someone should bubble wrap this man.
2013 was the beginning of a long and painful road for me and at the helm of my salvation, was your music. But little did I know it was only the start.
In 2015, I contracted a food poisoning, which led to a deadly bacterial infection, and that infection was misdiagnosed. My liver, pancreas, heart and intestines were failing in the hospital from September to December of that year – until a miracle doctor saved my life. I had even coded and got ordered into ICU because my organs were so shot. My heart rate was a steady 171 lying down. By all accounts, I should not have lived.
During this time, all I wanted was your music. Your voice. I would lie down in church pews (on the days I could walk) and pray and I would put your music on and make an active choice to keep fighting. I was internally bleeding, I lost 25 pounds, I hadn’t had solid food in months and said goodbye to half my head of hair. And I was only 33. Still, I would make a joke on social media daily, “Can Eric Church come sing to me?”
In 2016, I gradually got better. I powered through a lot of PTSD and learned how to live again. How to eat again. How to smile again. And yet again, I had your music.
I began to champion your artistry everywhere, partly because I’m passionate about what I like and partly because I have a PR background that can sometimes make me forcefully annoying. I didn’t care. I actually had friends disconnect because I played/posted too much of my “imaginary boyfriend.” And to them I said, that’s damn rock and roll.
I had been in a relationship for nine years and at this point was newly married. I wish I could say it then all turned to a fairy tale but this was really when I entered the fiery pits of Hell. My partner battled addiction and for a long time lost that fight. What was supposed to be white and filled with honey&moon turned black and corrosive. If you know anything about opiates and the victims they feed on; it’s a whole lot of lies and abuse for their families and loved ones.
I got in my car and put on your music and drove. From New York to Los Angeles, I drove. I left my life and love behind with the strength of only your music. (And a little Johnny Cash.)
In LA, I had nothing, at first. I bought a record player. I quite literally lived the lyrics of Record Year – I quite possibly still am.
This past year has still thrown me my tests. The ones I had to prove I am “a scrapper and a clawer.” The ones that are unmentionable. The ones that really made me question if I wanted to go on living.
I decided to join a fan group on Facebook. Aptly titled, Holdin’ Our Own. I’ve been a member for a while now. And last weekend, I decided to write to that group the story of how you saved my life, because I don’t open up and I’m always the tough one. The irony, is that as I was typing it out at 10:30pm on Sunday, shots were being fired blindly into a crowd. Even more ironic, was that I was supposed to be in that crowd.
I had tickets for months, since pre-sale, all because I couldn’t imagine you being a 4-hour drive away and me not going. I was supposed to be there alone. And my ticket got cancelled the day before. The vendor said my seller decided not to sell. All of my arrangements were cancelled nine hours before leaving. My hotel, dog boarding, and so on.
I was supposed to be there and for some reason I wasn’t. Which then made me crawl out of my skin. Was my ticket seller alive? Was she a mom? Who was she? I couldn’t come to terms with my not being there to potentially take a bullet over someone’s mom.
Because I felt I had no purpose. I’ve felt this way for a while now, even though I write for a living and sometimes think my words are my purpose. How could I be here and 58 people living happier than me not? And above this, I didn’t have to witness the torment, that will cause so many PTSD. I’ve lived through PTSD, I could take it. Pick me not them.
Only then a funny thing happened… My fan group began to raise money from the Church Choir. They put together a lottery pool of signed merch of yours. They tirelessly made t-shirts and jewelry and they raised thousands and thousands of dollars. And I piped in and said, “I want to do more. I want to do everything I can.”
And I did.
It was in this group of amazing people, that I can honestly say my life was saved. They are the most unselfish humans I’ve ever known and they came together over a love of you. I have never seen fans so dedicated to their chief. This group has become my family. And even though we lost 2 beautiful souls from our group last week; we gained the perspective of what it means to be country strong. To be a good f&*$ing human being. To chip in and not duck out. To fight and not flee. To be a neighbor. To be a shoulder. To be an ear.
I thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving me my purpose, for saving my life and for introducing me to the kindest people I have ever known. I know now where I am meant to be. We’ll see you in Texas.