A girl’s favorite song, a recording of her heartbeats and the Hawaiian term for family.
Thanks to the music therapy team at UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital, a Downey family have a special memory of their 8-year-old daughter that she helped create before she died.
Jaelyn Glaz died in June 2018, just days before turning 9. But before passing, a team of music therapy specialists at the hospital, where she spent years receiving treatment for cancer, recorded her heartbeat. They collaborated closely with Jaelyn’s family to create a song dedicated to her and symbolizing all she stood for and loved.
Though she was sometimes too weak to stand, Jaelyn loved to dance. She enjoyed the band Walk the Moon and even got to dance with the lead singer when the band visited the hospital.
The new song, “Jaelyn’s Heartbeat Song,” plays to the tune of “Shut Up And Dance” by Walk the Moon, which Glaz selected. Her final production incorporated her heartbeat, which served as the drumbeat of the song, and features the tagline for the Disney movie “Lilo and Stitch:” “Ohana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten.”
UCLA Medical Center has been creating this type of musical recording for end-of-life patients for the past four years.
Ratna Behal, a pediatric doctor at the hospital, said that music often plays a role in a family’s healing process.
“Music is, I can’t even tell you the impact it’s had on our patients,” she said. “It’s so fundamental in the care of these children and the whole family really.”
For Jaelyn’s family, her song did just that.
“Music was also something that made her get through the tough times,” Jaelyn’s mother, Jackie Glaz, said.
Glaz gets emotional every time she hears her daughter’s heartbeat. But she feels fortunate that, unlike so many other families who lose loved ones, she still has a part of her daughter.
Late last year, on the beaches of Hawaii, Jaelyn’s family returned to her favorite place to scatter her ashes in the ocean. They celebrated her life by playing her song.