A powerful love song pays tribute to family and tackles Alzheimer’s disease
Sharing the album x by Ed Sheeran from her music library, my daughter recently reminded me of the incredible power of music. My husband and I were driving her back to begin her sophomore year of college, and she selected the soundtrack for our road trip.
My daughter has excellent taste in music, and like me she is really into it. Music in our family is not a luxury, but instead a basic necessity like indoor plumbing or electricity . . . or chocolate. I’m a fan of Ed Sheeran too, who isn’t? He’s talented, introspective and sensitive and all that, like another British musician who also makes the female population go weak in the knees. So I was content to hum and tap along to his tunes as the miles and cornfields rolled by.
When the song “Afire Love” started up my daughter announced, “This song is so sad, Mom. It’s about Alzheimer’s disease. Just listen to the lyrics.”
I shot her a glance in the backseat with a bittersweet smile of familiarity, appreciation mixed with an all-consuming sadness I’ll never shake. Alzheimer’s disease is a family affair, and a subject I know all too well.
So I paid attention as Ed Sheeran poured out his heart and soul over the death of a beloved grandfather stricken by Alzheimer’s disease for twenty years. Twenty years, people! Can you even imagine?
As “Afire Love” played on, tears welled in my eyes, and I was rendered speechless. All the agony of helplessly watching a loved one succumb to the “devil” is beautifully expressed in every note and word through the emotional conduit of music.
The song is amazing. Ed Sheeran has written a touching tribute to his grandfather and what can only be described as an extraordinary love between his grandparents. What makes this song so great is that it’s not only about loss; it’s also a love story. And we can all relate to that because we all long to find that same kind of endless love. What an inspiration for Ed Sheeran to share something so intimate and painful with the whole world, something you can feel intently when you listen. That’s the true power of music at its best!
The final chorus of “Afire Love” goes for the kill and nearly rips my heart out. I connect so deeply to the emotions of the funeral in progress that just writing the lyrics here makes me weep. I too experienced that same sad relief mixed with despair when my mother passed away and at long last escaped the prison of Alzheimer’s that confined and destroyed her for the last thirteen years of her life.
“My father and all of my family
Rise from the seats to sing Hallelujah
To the love, the love, the love, the love”
My daughter recognized the significance of “Afire Love” by Ed Sheeran, a song that reminds us both of the imminent threat looming for our family, the genetic beast we try to hold at bay. She never got to know her grandmother because Alzheimer’s descended the year she was born. If my daughter must one day witness that “devil” herself, I pray there will be more musicians like Ed Sheeran to console her in her grief.
If you have not heard “Afire Love” by Ed Sheeran, I recommend you take the time to listen right here. Then tell me how it affected you!