In Texas, back in November, Miguel Guzman of Mariachi Los Galleros de San Antonio had to put his violin and music aside when he tested positive for the coronavirus. Just days before, he was masked and inside the home of a friend who was a reliable instrument dealer, buying a violin for a student. The friend later died of the virus.
Guzman fell very ill, too, and spent a month in the hospital. The virus winded him. He needed a constant stream of oxygen to breathe with his damaged lungs; he dropped 40 pounds and lost all his muscle; he needed physical therapy just to walk again.
At home, his fingers were numb when he repeatedly tried picking up his violin, but it was the promise of playing in the band with his sons again and writing a composition for his wife that kept him motivated to recover.
This past month, Guzman finally returned to the band and played at another round of funerals and burials. His first day back was at the funeral of a friend’s father-in-law. The week after, it was a funeral for one of his longtime clients, a tire-shop owner who had died of coronavirus-related complications.
Close to the coffin at that funeral, he stood with the band playing “Te Vas Ángel Mío” or “You’re Leaving, Angel of Mine.” He could hear the crying, yes, but he also could hear his violin, carrying life forward for those who grieved, and for him.
“Music is the medicine, because when I’m playing, I forget about not being able to breathe,” Guzman said.