Singing After TWO Double-Lung Transplants

Charity Tillemann-Dick Performing
Charity Tillemann-Dick, an opera singer and the recipient of two double-lung transplants.

I have interviewed some pretty amazing people, but Charity Tillemann-Dick is quite possibly one of the most remarkable individuals I have ever interviewed…

Charity Tillemann-Dick is an accomplished speaker, presenter, and soprano singer. She has performed in prestigious concert halls across Europe, Asia, and America in front of celebrities, presidents, and world dignitaries.

In 2004, Charity was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary hypertension, a rare condition that causes the arteries in the lungs to harden, forcing the heart to work harder and harder to pump blood throughout the body. Left untreated, Charity was not expected to live longer than five years. But since her diagnosis, Charity has received two double lung transplants and continues to speak, sing and perform across the country.

After interviewing her for about an hour, I wish that it was within my power to write and share everything that she said. Not only is she a really fast talker, but she’s also filled with incredible wisdom (seriously! I took three pages of notes)!

During the interview, I asked her about her reaction to her diagnosis, the highlights of her career, the album she just released, and her plans for the future.

I then asked her what she would say to someone who is struggling to move forward. Her response was poetic profundity:

“Loving ourselves and forgiving ourselves is so important because it allows us to love other people more effectively—love is the only way we can hear the narrative melody that is surrounded by a cacophony of noise and pain.”

Charity's album, "American Grace." Click on the picture to order a copy!
Charity’s album, “American Grace.” Click on the picture to order a copy!

In my notes, I had originally misheard her and written “the musical melody.” When I read the quote back to her she corrected me and said, “No, ‘the narrative melody.'” We then talked about the differences between the two. From our conversation, I learned that life isn’t always a happy, musical tune—it’s a narrative melody. Put another way, life isn’t trying to entertain us, it’s trying to teach us.

Although Charity’s journey forward has been extremely difficult—filled with trials, tears, and numerous near-death experiences—she’s determined to hear the narrative melody of life: “It’s hard,” she said. “But there’s exquisite beauty along the way—it’s our responsibility to open our eyes and ears to it.”

Each and every moment of our lives is a note from the divine melody. It’s up to us to be still and find the meaning in those notes—the narrative in that melody. Charity not only hears and understands the music, but she’s determined to make it: “I’m just so excited to make more music,” she said. “And I think that’s one of the reasons why I’m still here.”

Right now, Charity and her husband are working hard to make her new album a bestseller on Billboard. I strongly, strongly, strongly, strongly encourage you to visit her website and order a copy for yourself!

Now, after all I’ve said about listening to the narrative of life—listen to Charity sing!

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