Thank You, Katy Perry

Dear Katy, thank you very much for the music that you create and share — especially the song “Firework.” You have profoundly made a difference in this humble Midwest house, as well as provided inspiration and joy into our lives in a way that is very difficult to describe.

I first drafted this article about a year ago. At the time it was just a random thought, based on a silly idea (and still feels a bit silly). However, sometimes we learn that the passage of time is not always kind, and even silly ideas should have a place to flourish, when given the chance. And I don’t want to discover a day where I would regret not doing something as easy as a thank you letter. Even if you never see it, or know that it is here, I will know that I wrote it — just for my daughter. I know that if she were capable of saying thank you, she would.

To explain why Firework means so much to our family, is to try and understand why/how music affects anyone in the ways that it does. When a song comes along that strikes a deeply personal chord, you never forget it. It can be mentally queued up at any time of any day, and will be stored in memory for an entire lifetime. The implications of that are stunning. It takes us to a particular emotional state of mind. Or, in the case of our family, a very special girl — Sabrina.

Even brighter than the moon, moon, moon.

Sabrina’s life is a complex mixture of emotions over time. We have had so many ups and downs. Good days and bad days. She was born 12 years ago with a rare brain disorder called “Holoprosencephaly” (HPE). The prognosis from the doctors was never very comfortable to hear. It seems that every week is a new challenge to beat.

Do you ever feel like a plastic bag
Drifting through the wind, wanting to start again?
Do you ever feel, feel so paper thin
Like a house of cards, one blow from caving in?

Fortunately though, Sabrina is a true fighter, and has won every battle that has challenged her routine, and doesn’t worry about the prognosis. She lives her life moment by moment. She is unable to communicate through typical means (sounds or signs), yet somehow her expressions still tell us everything we need to know: She loves us very much.

Maybe a reason why all the doors are closed
So you could open one that leads you to the perfect road
Like a lightning bolt, your heart will glow
And when it’s time you’ll know

When we first heard the song Firework, I believe it was during a time when we needed something powerful to hold on to. Since then, every time it plays — which, by the way, is often, thanks to the use of the track in the movie “Madagascar 3” (one of Sabrina’s favorites). When the first few notes queue up, there it is. That feeling. A warmth from within, coaxed out by a song that somehow feels tailor-made for our magical girl. When she lights up her smile, her heart fills the room with joy.

You just gotta ignite the light and let it shine
Just own the night like the 4th of July

This coming 4th of July (2015) will be Sabrina’s 13th birthday.

There is no doubt that “Firework” will be played in our house that day (likely several times, and with the volume up). Even though the original intent of the song isn’t connected to Sabrina, it has become something truly meaningful in this small home. And to reach her teenage years is certainly no small milestone.

Boom, boom, boom
Even brighter than the moon, moon, moon
It’s always been inside of you, you, you
And now it’s time to let it through-ough-ough

Katy, on the near-impossible-chance that you see this, I hope that you keep writing songs that empower individuals of all ages and abilities. Perhaps you will think of this little girl somewhere in Illinois that brings joy to everyone around her and find some inspiration in that. And, maybe forgive a silly father for writing a silly article about a thank you for a song that reminds him of his daughter.

Anton Peck