Tasting the moment: Attending Taylor Swift’s ‘Eras’ tour with SMA

Even a recent hospitalization didn't keep me from the concerts

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by Sherry Toh |

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Taylor Swift, the light of my life, the one artist who’s gotten me through all my toughest eras, once wrote: “So make the friendship bracelets/ Take the moment and taste it/ You’ve got no reason to be afraid.”

I took that advice last month. Well, except for making friendship bracelets. The diminished strength and dexterity caused by my SMA doesn’t allow me to make pretty, dainty things like bracelets, sadly. I bought some and had more gifted to me by my best friend and fellow columnist Brianna Albers instead. But I very much took the moments I could and tasted them, telling myself to be less afraid and more carefree.

‘Are you ready for it?’

Pictured at the front of the photo is a young Chinese woman who is wearing pink glasses, red lipstick, and a black T-shirt dress with silver tassels sprinkled over it. She's in a wheelchair. Behind her is the stadium and a concert stage.

Sherry Toh’s outfit for the second night of the “Eras Tour” in Singapore, which she attended in March. She says she sadly didn’t have any Taylor Swift shirts that were cool enough to wear at the stadium, so she went with a T-shirt dress that reminded her of Swift’s “Fearless,” “Reputation,” and “Midnights” albums. (Courtesy of Sherry Toh)

The beginning of March was practically a festival dedicated to Swift in Singapore, my home island. Almost everyone was abuzz for her six-night “Eras” tour stop. I myself had tickets to the third night. Marina Bay Sands, a hotel complex, set up displays inspired by Swift’s albums, a merchandise pop-up store in its mall, and a water show to her songs; bubble tea shops ran special promotions for those with friendship bracelets; almost every business I walked past played Swift’s music; our government’s leaders boasted about getting her here nonstop. It was almost too much, even for me.

I’d just gotten out of the hospital a week before Swift’s first three shows and was unsure if I could make it. Everyone around me used the tickets to motivate me to get better, as if drumming up my excitement would cure an aggressive respiratory infection that almost killed me.

(Oddly enough, I’d caught said infection at a concert by Swift’s best friend and frequent collaborator Ed Sheeran.)

I can’t say the chosen method of motivation didn’t make me want to get better, even if it couldn’t treat the infection the way antibiotics could. It made me push myself to take my medication and get my nutrition orally in spite of my struggle. I’d waited too long for the Eras Tour to come to Singapore; SMA wasn’t going to stop me from attending if I could help it.

At long last, the big day came on March 4. I got dressed in my “Eras” outfit (for those interested, it was a yellow T-shirt resembling one Swift has worn with lyrics to her song “Blank Space,” black shorts like those she wore in her “22” music video, a glittery butterfly clip to reference her debut album, and red lipstick with winged eyeliner), grabbed my friendship bracelets, put on my mask to prevent another infection, and excitedly headed out the door. I didn’t think I’d make it. But I did.

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I had such a fantastic time with my brother and dad. Swift was phenomenal — I can hardly describe the elation of watching her perform. I loved the show so much that my dad and I decided to purchase tickets for her last show in Singapore on March 9.

Furthermore, on that first evening, I got to skip the queue in the heat to grab a tour T-shirt and hoodie, thanks to someone who was managing the booth and saw my wheelchair. My dad, shockingly, was also stopped by someone in the queue for food who gave him the memorabilia ticket that came with the expensive VIP package.

‘Hold on to the memories/ … And I will hold on to you’

Two girls are in wheelchairs in front of a display for "Taylor Swift The Eras Tour." On the left is a young Chinese woman wearing glasses, a black and brown striped turtleneck, jeans and sneakers. Her fingers are flashing the peace sign. The young Chinese woman on the right is wearing a cream hoodie that says, “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour” in bold, black font, which almost hides her shorts. Her smile is painted with red lipstick.

This isn’t one of displays set up at Marina Bay Sands — but Phoebe Chua, left, and Sherry Toh wanted to take a photo anyway. (Courtesy of Sherry Toh)

The joy didn’t stop there. A few days later, my friend Phoebe and I visited Marina Bay Sands to check out the Swift-inspired displays and take photos. Phoebe and I were childhood friends who met through the Muscular Dystrophy Association (Singapore), and we hadn’t met up in a long time. But Swift gave us something we knew we’d still have in common, a path to catching up.

On the way, Phoebe suggested we do something I’d never done before: have cocktails at dinner.

With SMA in my life, the opportunity to be in social settings with alcohol doesn’t come up often. When it does, I worry about what my family might think if I got tipsy. Being with Phoebe and my caregiver gave me the freedom to be an adult with the curiosity of a kid.

I ended up ordering a strawberry daiquiri while Phoebe got a lychee crush. Both were better than we expected.

To end the night, we split one of Swift’s favorite drinks — an old fashioned — and a Baileys shot.

The adventures I had in March because of Swift will forever remind me of something my dad said during my hospital stay: “You were always down as a child because you had SMA. That changed after you heard Taylor’s music. She gave you something to focus on that wasn’t SMA.”

Thank you, Taylor. I hope I’ll get to express my gratitude in person someday.

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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