CLEARWATER — Jim Carson tried almost everything.
He went though painful radiation and chemotherapy. He ate through a tube and endured a never-ending stream of bleak medical news.
But there was one thing left.
One day in 2004, his pastor at Northwood Presbyterian suggested faith healing, an unusual departure for the church. Mr. Carson agreed. He was anointed with oils, and people put hands on him and prayed.
"It was extremely powerful," said his wife, Stephanie Carson. "You could just feel … I don't know. It was the most spiritual moment."
For a brief time after that, his cancer mysteriously disappeared.
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He never knew restrictions even close to cancer.
Mr. Carson played trumpet since age 11. He attended the Berklee College of Music and turned the horn into a career, playing in bands including Straight Talk, Atlantic City Express and the Fall Guys and a Gal.
He traveled the country performing. He loved songs by Earth, Wind & Fire, Chicago and Count Basie. He was outgoing with a boisterous laugh heard across the room.
He called fans on stage to do "the Bump" dance craze. One night, he called Stephanie Carson, now 54.
"We bumped into each other," said Mrs. Carson, who sang in her husband's bands.
They eventually had kids, settled in Clearwater and played music part time at corporate events. Mr. Carson's wife became director of music at Northwood Presbyterian.
Everything changed in 2003. Mr. Carson learned he had Stage 3 tonsil cancer.
His faith wasn't always strong, his wife said. One day, while undergoing a stomach tube replacement, he almost died. That night in bed, he grabbed his wife's hand.
"Let's pray," he said.
"He'd never done that before," said Mrs. Carson. "So from that day on, every night, we'd grab hands and pray."
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The family swears God heard them. Mr. Carson defied expectations and did everything he wanted.
He walked his daughter, Cambia Catarelli, down the aisle at her wedding in 2004.
"He was just rubbing my hand the whole time," said Catarelli, 24. "I was just so glad that he was there."
He saw his son, Cody Carson, graduate from high school and get accepted to the Oberlin Conservatory of Music.
He played trumpet again. At church the year after his friends laid hands on him, he stood and played Hark! The Herald Angels Sing and O Come, All Ye Faithful. Everyone wept and clapped.
And when he finally died Saturday at age 56, he didn't choke or suffer. He went in peace.
Stephanie Hayes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8857.