An Open Letter to Dave Grohl from Toni Smid

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An open letter to Dave Grohl

Dear Dave

I know you are probably never going to read this and I never would have dreamed a year ago that I would be writing such a letter. But I’ve learned in the last few months that it is really important to appreciate and give thanks for the things that are important in life so here goes. . .

In April 2017 I was told I had a brain tumour. I knew something was seriously wrong when the doctor held my hand and put pressure on it. My immediate reaction was WTF! Those few days between discovery and eviction are a numbed blur of emotions, steroids, opiates (and probably sedatives – I didn’t ask).

As I started to process it they started to drip feed me snippets of information. They kept assuring me that ‘these meningioma types are usually benign’ and I would be fine. “The type you want to have if you’ve got a brain tumour.”

But then the hospital social worker brought me an advanced care plan to fill out.

I’d never heard of one before. It is basically a document where you articulate what/how you want to be cared for and what’s important to you once you are no longer able to tell people yourself. I then realised how serious things really were and that, although small, there was a chance I might not come out of this without collateral damage. Or even worse, not all.

It was very confronting. In those few days I swung between numbness and hysteria. And then I became very focused. It became so clear who and what was important to me. When I had to write my advanced care plan I chose Everlong as the song that I wanted to be the last thing I ever heard on earth if it came to them having to switch the machines off. It was going to be a musical signal to let me know I was about to die. It has always been one of my favourite songs of yours and I chose it because I didn’t want to have to say goodbye (just as you use it as the final song at your concerts).

My phone playlist, which featured a lot of your music, kept me sane during my time in hospital and has helped me so much in the months following during recovery. (Walk has a whole new meaning when you literally have to learn to walk and talk again!).

Your music has been one of the constant soundtracks of my adult life. From the early days when I was at uni and too broke to come and see you live, cranking it up when my first born couldn’t sleep (yeah I know, probably not the best parenting and she can’t stand Learn to Fly ) right through to the first time that I was able to see you live in 2015 which was one of the most awesome nights of my life (we were always too broke/far away/nobody to babysit before that).

Watching you play this live again in Sydney was not only one of my post-tumour bucket list items but also me confronting what could have been. It was emotional and I burst into tears as the first rift of Everlong was played. I knew it would be coming and by the end I felt stronger and ready to move onto the next stage of my recovery.

I think I almost got the opportunity to see you as you were leaving your hotel in Sydney the Sunday after the gig but it looked as if you were about to head to the airport. We were having a walk around The Rocks before it was time to head to the airport ourselves and I noticed a bunch of security vans/staff around the back entrance of the hotel that it was rumoured you were staying. We walked past to investigate and my suspicions were confirmed when I saw a couple of other fans waiting patiently with LPs to be signed and a photographer hanging nearby.

We went and waited down the road for a bit. I felt like a bit of as stalker and knew I wouldn’t be able to express to you how much your music has meant to me, particularly in the last few months, in a couple of superficial moments and I decided to leave. So instead, I have written this letter to say my thanks.

I have learned through this whole brain tumour shit that life is too short for regrets, you need to express thanks for the people and experiences that are important to you and that you need to enjoy every moment in life as ‘if everything could never feel this real forever or be this good again’ because you just never know what’s around that corner…thank you so much for making a really shitty journey so much easier by having your music by my side the whole way.

Oh, and by the way, not only is your music great for drowning out the sounds of drilling for Tasmanian miners but also great for blocking out the awful sounds of an MRI scan on your head!

Kind regards

Toni Smid

Darwin, Australia.

Toni’s original blog, and video of Everlong, can be found on her Two Tumourless Ts Facebook page.

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