Jarvie’s Personal Story

Canadian singer/songwriter Suzanne Jarvie’s life changed forever on July 1st, 2011 when her eldest son Julius fell down a staircase, leaving him in a coma for a week. 

Jarvie, also a lawyer and mother of four is an advocate for Brain Awareness. 

June is Brain Awareness month and according to a recent Health Canada report, each year in Canada more than 20,000 people are hospitalized for traumatic brain injuries.

It was during Jarvie’s visits to the hospital that writing music came with little effort, which led to recording her debut album, Spiral Road, released in 2014. 

Photo Credit – Brain Awareness

Jarvie has since released a second album, 

In the Clear, which touches on her son’s triumphant journey to recovery.

Jarvie said in a recent interview, “When my son had his accident on a perfect hot summer day, the weather seemed to symbolize the opposite of everything that happened and now I always have this strange association with really good weather. My life as I knew it ended… all sense of order and logic melted away. There was denial too; I did not know if I would ever be happy again. So when I looked around I could not avoid noticing what was left – this awesome, magical love for my child, lying comatose.  And then after about a week he suddenly began responding to commands. So I went from this pit into a state of ecstatic relief even though his injury was catastrophic and the road ahead was long and steep, I felt a joy unknown before.”

 She continues, “It was about a month later I picked up my guitar and wrote Before and After, the first song on Spiral Road. Music was coming out of me in this altered state. I wrote at home and at the hospital, the whole cluster came out in the poetry and the melodies. I would like listeners to share and connect with my experience through those songs.”

So how does it feel to affect others that have gone through a family tragedy?  “Very moved and humbled and connected,” Jarvie answered, adding, “Often after a show someone will approach me with a story of their own loss, sometimes about brain injury, sometimes about losing or almost losing a child. They are moved by the music because it reflects (on) aspects of their own experience.”  

Jarvie explains, “Spiral Road is very close to the events. I had this strange observational creativity about my own experience and the experience of others. I saw my old life, my new life, death, the grief of others, which is a terrible thing to witness, more horrifying than your own in some ways.  My son lives with a terrible injury. In spite of his miraculous recovery, I still battle resistance to his reality and our new normal. I wish he was healed and that we were all just in the clear.”  

For Jarvie, In the Clear is, “… like a next chapter – writing about my son but also about his sister, who sings on the new record and just toured with me too, and other story songs that are not connected to the accident but still come from themes of loss, passing, addiction, forgiveness, afterlife.”

When it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, Jarvie says, “I try my best to exercise. I run and go to yoga as often as possible, but it is a challenge to stay regular.  Currently on my (to do) list is (getting) a treadmill…there’s really no reason not to be walking continuously while typing and reading. I have to say touring is physically challenging – there isn’t a lot of time on your backside and performing is a big energy output. So I always feel better exercised on tour.”

Christine Blanchette is a TV host and producer of Run With It, a monthly running, fitness, health and lifestyle program.