Until Then

Until Then

‘Until Then’ CD Cover

About four months after Ashley died, Susan and Justin and I took a trip from our home in Texas to visit some friends in Tennessee and then spend a few days in the Great Smoky Mountains. Driving late at night, somewhere between Memphis and Nashville, the idea for a song began growing in my head. It was a tribute to the remarkable life of my Ashley, her profound impact on our lives as her family, and the deep emptiness left in our hearts by her death. But even amidst the palpable sadness of our grief, I found my thoughts, and the emerging song, focusing on the hope that is inherent in my faith — the promise that, one day, we will see her and hold her once again.

The more we drove, the more the song grew and began to organize itself into verses and a chorus. I asked Susan to find some paper and a pen and start writing down the words so that I wouldn’t forget them. I drove and Susan wrote, and by the time we reached Nashville, “Until Then” was a song.

The next day, I reluctantly shared my song with the Dabbs family, our Nashville friends, and they liked it. Over the next several months, I continued to share “Until Then” with a few people here and there, and was always pleased with the feedback I received. Jeremy Pate, a dear friend and fellow youth minister, heard the song and offered to record an instrumental track to go behind the lyrics. He and his cousin Steve Agee proceeded to do just that. They got together and recorded a guitar track and drum track. Another good friend, Randy McCoy, was running a professional recording studio in Fort Worth at the time. I shared with him my dream of getting a good recording of “Until Then” using the instrumental track provided by Jeremy and Steve. Randy offered to help.

Until Then recording session, Randy McCoy

On Thursday evening, December 2, 2004, I met Randy at the recording studio. Jeremy and my son Justin were with me. The first step was to record my vocals on top of the instrumental track, often re-recording a single phrase several times to get it just right. It was a fascinating process.

Until Then recording session, Paul and Justin O'Rear

After the lead vocals were recorded, Jeremy and Justin each took their turn at the microphone, Jeremy singing high harmonies and Justin singing low harmonies. To have Jeremy help with the vocals, after having already contributed enormously to the project by providing the instrumental track, was very special. To have Justin be such an integral part of this project commemorating the life of his beloved big sister was meaningful beyond description.

Until Then recording session, Justin O'Rear and Jeremy Pate

Click the graphic below to listen to my song, “Until Then”.

Click to listen

My Dream

Ever since I wrote “Until Then”, I have had this really big dream of someday having it recorded by a well-known country artist (ideally a male singer who is a very wholesome family man). I have no idea how to make that happen, but it continues to be a dream, for two reasons:

  1. Music is powerful and therapeutic. When Ashley was going through her cancer battle, and when she died, and even to this day, there have been a handful of songs that have served as a source of strength for me and for my family. Music has the power to soothe the soul, to invoke reflection and soul-searching, and even to bring a sense of calm and peace. It is a crucial and fundamental element to life itself.Knowing how therapeutic music has been for me, it is my hope that “Until Then” can provide that same sense of connection and healing for others who are traveling their own grief journey. Obviously, the more exposure the song gets, the better chance it has of helping other people. Having a well-known artist record the song would certainly get it in front of exponentially more people than I could ever hope to do on my own. So this is my “altruistic” reason for wanting to have “Until Then” recorded by a well-known artist. I want it to help people.
  2. I also have a more selfish reason for wanting my song to reach lots of people. It would simply be one more way for me to keep Ashley’s memory alive. As I wrote in a previous blog post:

    For those families who are left with empty arms and broken hearts, one of their greatest fears is that the world will forget that their precious child was here. I know, because I am one of those broken-hearted Daddies. There is a burning desire deep in my soul to keep Ashley’s memory alive. I cannot explain it to those who have not walked my path. Nor will I apologize for it to those who do not understand. Ashley, quite simply, is worth remembering.

    This burning desire has been a big part of the motivation behind my keeping Ashley’s memorial website up and running, even eight years after her death. It is one of the reasons I started this blog. And it is one of the reasons that I dream of having “Until Then” make it big in the world of music. The more people who hear it, the more people will know about my Ashley.

Paul O'Rear Signature

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10 thoughts on “Until Then

  1. Paul, Thank you so much for sharing this part of yours and Susan’s lives w/ us. I can only imagine the death of a child. I went through 2 miscarriages and that was way more pain than I would want anybody to go through. To lose a child that you have held and who you know and and lived with and dreamed with and suffered with, ….. I’m so sorry. I do remember Ashley. I remember her battle with cancer. I remember the effect it had on the whole family. Love you guys.

  2. What a wonderful song, and I can already imagine George Strait singing it (he lost a daughter as well). Its interesting how I’ve never met Ashley, but I can already see what a wonderful person she was because of your many tributes to her! What a lucky gal she was to have ya’ll!

    On a unrelated note, I remember Jeremy Pate. I went on a blind date with him once!

    .-= Lacy Hobbs´s last blog ..#6 =-.

  3. Dear Paul and Susan,

    Thanks for sharing your song, “Until Then” with us. What wonderful thoughts you have expressed. I know that it was a great loss when she went on but you showed her such a great love while she was with you. Someday we will understand the why of things. I feel sure this song will help many others through their time of grief. It needs to be published.

    We love you,
    Marvin and Sue

  4. Paul, What a touching song! Your expression is felt with every word! Ashley is in Heaven saying “Way to go dad thank you” I am sorry for your loss but we will see her again.

  5. While looking through the internet I found your story. Ashley does live on here on the internet. Your story has touched me. I am sorry for loss. Thank you for sharing your story with me here on the net.
    God bless you and may He keep keep His strong arms around you.

  6. Paul, such a beautiful story and song you have shared. So sorry for your loss but so happy you were able to have such a wonderful daughter and beautiful memories of the time that God gave you with her. God bless you and your family.

  7. Oh Paul…What a lovely tribute and song for your beautiful daughter. Though she is in Heaven now, it is a reminder to us all to cherish our own children too. Please continue to share and write to us all….I will pray that your wish will come true, and that this inspirational song will go Nation -wide very soon as you have desired. Thanks again, Paul.
    PS: I graduated with your brother. Class of 78 in Alice, Texas.
    May God continue to bless you, your family, and your ministry.
    Grace