Why attending Taylor Swift’s ‘Eras’ concert was cathartic for me

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by Alyssa Silva |

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Crying the moment I saw Taylor Swift on stage wasn’t something I expected to happen. But it wasn’t completely unexpected, either.

I realize I’m contradicting myself here, but emotions will do that to a person. They’ll feel exhilarating and paralyzing simultaneously, and yet somehow manage to create something cathartic. That’s what happened for me at Taylor Swift’s “The Eras Tour.”

Before we go any further, I should note that I’m a “Swiftie.” I may not run a fan account on social media, and I don’t (normally) cry at her concerts when she emerges from a curtain. But I’ve been a fan for 15 years now. Her artistry and ability to connect with her fans, in my opinion, are unmatched by other performers.

So when Taylor announced her tour last year, I was disappointed I couldn’t go. Sitting in a crowd of 65,000 people while I’m still cautiously reemerging with SMA into a post-pandemic world didn’t seem smart for me and my fragile health. More so, I didn’t think my body was strong enough to go.

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Unexpected developments

The morning that tickets went on sale, I broke down. After years of fighting, I reached my breaking point and succumbed to the fact that I no longer had the strength to do the things I once loved. The truth was that my body had been slowly weakening for years, and I’d already missed out on so much. Yet somehow, this one instance is what caused me to unravel.

To my surprise, I received a text from a friend later that night who said he’d reserved a private room for me at the concert. He knew about my struggles and was aware of how cautious I needed to be around others, so he set up a space at the stadium where tickets aren’t normally available and assured me I’d have the utmost privacy. But most of all, he reminded me to take care of myself first. I didn’t have to attend the concert if I didn’t feel up for it. But the tickets were there just in case.

Overwhelmed with gratitude, I began to tear up again. Though the gesture was beyond generous, I didn’t anticipate going. After all, I could barely sit up in my wheelchair. I was fighting harder than ever to simply survive. Above all, I was tired. I was tired of the procedures, the pain, and the never-ending battle only to feel weak and defeated. I was tired of fighting.

But in the months leading up to the concert, I began to feel stronger. I began to sit up longer and feel a little more like myself again. Though I wasn’t as strong as I would’ve liked, I was far from where I’d been. The progress was evident, and suddenly, the concert didn’t seem so out of reach. Even though I was afraid of overdoing it, my love for Taylor outweighed everything else. So with that in mind, I went to an “Eras Tour” concert.

When the performance started, my tears immediately followed. It was only six months ago I was too weak to be there. It was only six months ago I could barely sit up in my wheelchair for 10 minutes without struggling to breathe. It was only six months ago that I wanted to give up.

What I know about resilience

With the many challenges I face every day, it’s inevitable I’ll feel this way at times, that I’ll feel defeated. But the beauty of living with SMA is that it teaches you about resilience. It instills a drive to keep going even when life seems hauntingly dark. And there will be moments, both grand and small, that make this fight worthwhile. There will be moments when you realize how ugly and beautiful this world can be at the same time.

All at once, I began realizing this truth as Taylor came on stage. I began taking inventory of all the moments I would’ve missed, including the concert, if I hadn’t kept fighting as hard as I did (and continue to do). I could’ve given up sitting in my wheelchair. I could’ve quit my job to watch television all day and disassociate from the world. I could’ve stopped clinging to hope and faith. But I didn’t. And now, I was at Taylor Swift’s “The Eras Tour,” feeling more alive than I had in a while.

Attending the concert felt like one big fight song — a reminder to me, and to anyone who’s felt hopeless or helpless, to keep going. The fight may never end. But neither will the victories.

A woman with long brown hair sits in a power wheelchair. She's indoors and wearing a light gold evening gown.

Alyssa, sparkling at the Taylor Swift concert. (Courtesy of Alyssa Silva)

Note: SMA News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of SMA News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to spinal muscular atrophy.

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