By Allison Echard, MMT, MT-BC
This summer, A Place To Be said goodbye to Miss Cody Huntington. After a fierce journey of resilience, love, and strength, Cody passed away this past July. As her music therapist, I want to share how amazing this young woman was and continues to be in the lives of those she touched.
In January of 2017, Cody started music therapy at A Place To Be. She began music therapy after a tragic car accident that resulted in a traumatic brain injury a year and a half prior. When we first started working together, I learned that Cody loved sea turtles, the ocean, and country music. She often wore bright t-shirts that had something to do with one of the three, and over the course of our time together, Cody consistently chose songs like “Toes” by Zac Brown Band to sing and dance to. Through music, we focused on vocalizing and increasing Cody’s mobility. Though she could not speak, Cody vocalized “ah” along to her favorite country and pop songs and stretched her arms, legs, and neck in an effort to play instruments like the guitar and tambourine. Cody developed so much control and strength in her legs that she played the tambourine with her feet at APTB’s Winter Recital by kicking the tambourine to the beat of “Little Drummer Boy.”
Despite frequent hospital visits and medical complications, Cody and her mom, Karen, (and often an extra family member, friend, and even a dog on occasion) drove all the way from Warrenton each week to come to music therapy. And each week, both Cody and Karen arrived with smiles on their faces and a genuine kindness and warmth that permeated the whole building. Our sessions usually started with an update from Karen on Cody’s latest surgery or treatment that always sounded way more taxing and exhausting than either of them let it on to be. During these particular sessions, I would frequently check in with Cody to make sure she was up for one more exercise, one more try, one more challenge, keeping in mind that she just got home from the hospital. It never failed, however, that Cody would look me right in the eye and give a clear thumbs-up, communicating, “Bring it on!”
Cody demonstrated this resilience and strength up until her final session in June of this year. Although she’s not physically with us anymore, her lessons of strength and love will always be with me, the APTB family, and everyone who knew her. I am especially reminded of this when I hear the song, “Toes” by Zac Brown Band, one of Cody’s favorites during her last several sessions. This is a fun song about going on vacation to the beach and saying goodbye to your home, as the chorus starts: Adios and vaya con dios, which translates to: Goodbye and go with God. I can’t think of a better send-off for Miss Cody, as she has indeed gone with God, and likely to a beach brighter and better than we could ever imagine.