Today at 4PM a woman who literally “lived” to sing left this earth. She has been carried on drooping wings by the chorus of angels that surrounded her in life and in death.
Today at 4PM a woman who literally “lived” to sing left this earth. She has been carried on drooping wings by the chorus of angels that surrounded her in life and in death. Lynette Lyon was known to many in the New York City area. She was a professional singer but she was also a beacon of hope and strength to us all. She was strong in spirit, strong in faith and strong in her love of art. The heavens had granted her at least nine or ten lives in her fight against a rare form of cancer. She spent each one of those extra lives knowing her God and owning her truth in faith.
In the days leading up to her diagnosis, I was one of the many who kept urging her to see a Doctor. There was something wrong and we who knew her well could see that something had changed her physically. But having no health insurance she was worried about the financial implications. The day she finally saw a Doctor at an urgent care center she phoned me from her taxi saying that the Doctor was sending her on to the hospital as her situation was urgent. The sound in her voice was not of fear. I would liken it to the sound of a child who was regarding this as an adventure with curiosity. She didn’t seem to be phased …. she was in miraculous awe of what was about to happen. This would be a quality that defined Lynette over the miraculous years to come. Of course there were brief glimmers of fear along the way but it was faced with her faith in God and her desire to live. It was, simply put, a crusade.
She didn’t seem to be phased… she was in miraculous awe of what was about to happen. This would be a quality that defined Lynette over the miraculous years to come. Of course there were brief glimmers of fear along the way but it was faced with her faith in God and her desire to live. It was, simply put, a crusade.
So began her years of diagnosis, specialists and a deeply personal journey with a terminal illness. I immediately brought my Angel Choir together to sing at her bedside during her first stay in the hospital. In solidarity, many showed up including some who had not been to rehearsals in years but wanted to be there for her. As we crowded around her bed she smiled with the anticipation of being able to sing WITH us. As she was on a critical care floor one of the nurses came by and suggested that we close the door lest we disturb many of the other patients. After our first song, a rousing gospel setting of one of Lynette’s favorite pieces called “Order My Steps” the door was flung open by two Doctors. We feared that they would ask us to be quieter. We had 25 singers and everyone was singing out to the best of their abilities on this rousing piece of music. The Doctors smiled and said, “Everyone needs to hear this!” The doors were kept open and the Doctors and eventually nurses on the floor stood with us and listened.
Lynette was the belle of the ball. She knew all too well that her life was being celebrated at that moment by all. She rallied for the strength of music and her chance to sing with us. Sometimes laying back her head she would just move with the gospel swing. Always smiling, always engaged in the deep power of vibrational quality that singing gives those who are involved. We performed five more songs. This was to become a gesture that The Angel Choir would offer her on many, many occasions during her fight. We went to rehabilitation facilities, hospitals and eventually her long term care facility to stand by her in song.
Her cancer had wrapped itself around her heart and lung. Explaining that they could not remove the tumors, the Doctors tried to reason with her that the act of singing put considerable strain on the affected organs. They wanted her to restrain herself from singing too much. But her personal crusade had a different trajectory than her Doctors were foreseeing. She continued to sing, to go to concerts and to perform in them. Her future was a projection of faith and determination within her art. It wasn’t an aggressive determination…more of a gentle kind of “knowing.”
Her future was a projection of faith and determination within her art. It wasn’t an aggressive determination…more of a gentle kind of “knowing.”
It was singing, she said, that kept her alive. And with that her face seemed to glow more. She actually never had the look of someone as ill as she was. Her attitude was one of hope. And once when she had seen the cancer within her on a medical scan, she actually described its own beautiful design. She baffled everyone with her length of life. Fighting a cancer that had a short life expectancy, she managed to live with enjoyment for another five years.
She would smile and say to her specialists and all of her friends, “If I can’t sing I may as well just die right now.” That was the only time I ever saw the crusade start to falter…only when Doctors tried to limit her music. They finally relented and asked her to at least sit while she sang to alleviate the stress on her heart. And, then with a never faltering focus, she would attend and sing in choir rehearsals, high holy days at synagogues, church services and concerts that she had the strength to attend. To her, the crusade meant that she was never the victim. Never.
She delighted in phoning me up to ask about an opera I had attended or the latest gossip on a certain singer. This only paled in contrast with her love and adoration of the British Royal Family. Outside of singing, there was nothing better to Lynette than talk of the Queen and the Royals. Her sense of humor was quick and cheeky, and in whatever rehearsals she would be involved in, she would share all of this news as part of her crusade. To let everyone know that she was still in the game of the music business and up to date.
Those of us close to her watched her quality of life with awe. On some days it seemed as if she was no longer ill. The spectrum of good will and boundless faith that she shared was unceasing. Everyone who knew her, everyone who sang with her….we all learned about resilience, humility and the simple fact of just moving forward. She told me many times that she was not afraid. And usually she would follow up that statement with a smile and look at me out of the corner of her eye as if to affirm “I’m really not afraid.” It was not said with a hint of misgiving or fear. It was simply her truth.
She told me many times that she was not afraid. And usually she would follow up that statement with a smile and look at me out of the corner of her eye as if to affirm “I’m really not afraid.” It was not said with a hint of misgiving or fear. It was simply her truth.
At 4PM on May 30, 2020 she was taken by her angels to the next meeting place of souls. That morning, I was looking through old greeting cards and letters that I had saved. I came across at least ten cards that Lynette had shared with me over the last few years. One stood out in my mind. It was a card thanking me for my vocal teaching at a time in her life when she was not always open to being challenged. She and I had struggled together to fight her temperament which could have, at that time, a force field around it to fend off outsiders. But she let me in and remarkable growth occurred in her singing. That era of work forged a strong bond between us that was never going to be compromised. The note said,
“Thank you for giving me the ideas that I needed and for staying with me during this journey.”
The note said, “Thank you for giving me the ideas that I needed and for staying with me during this journey.”
I was quite aware that she was breathing her last breaths in the hospital when I read this. And somehow I knew that this note was the ultimate goodbye. Her crusade was going to end on this earth. And I, for my part, had stayed with her during the journey.
All of us who were privileged enough to watch her ability to flourish and find her unfailing strength to embrace her love of making music have benefited from the experience. She lived her truth in singing. And she built faith to allow her spirit to soar. She illuminated our lives with a crusade that was dominated by her own sense of awe.
One of the Angel Choir members wrote to me to say that she was the ultimate warrior. Yes, she was. A warrior angel.