LOS ANGELES (AP) — With his infant son clinging to life, Chris Picco picked up a guitar and sang softly to the boy, urging him to “mend those broken wings and learn to fly.”
After video of Picco performing the gentle Beatles’ ballad “Blackbird” in a hospital intensive care ward was posted online, it quickly captured the Internet’s heart. Then it just as quickly broke that heart when Picco’s son died days after his mother, Ashley, passed away.
“My little fighter, Lennon James Picco, went to sleep in his daddy’s arms late last night,” the musician with the Loma Linda University Church’s youth ministry wrote on his Facebook page Wednesday. “He was dressed in an outfit that Ashley bought for him, with little guitars on it.”
The song and other images Picco posted of himself with his wife and their son brought an outpouring of grief and prayers to his Facebook page, YouTube and other sites.
Picco did not immediately reply to phone and email messages Friday, saying on Facebook that he couldn’t keep up with all the messages he’s been receiving.
“For the next few days, Chris is spending time with his family, his friends and his community while he continues to grieve,” family friend Brett Walls told The Associated Press in an email.
He added that Picco, who lives in the Los Angeles suburb of Loma Linda, recognizes the impact his video has had and hopes he might use it at some point to help others.
Meanwhile, a memorial service is planned Saturday at Loma Linda University Church for mother and son.
Picco and his 30-year-old wife were anticipating their son’s birth in February when she suddenly became ill last week. Picco said doctors delivered Lennon by emergency C-section after Ashley died in her sleep Saturday. The boy was born 16 weeks premature.
San Bernardino County coroner spokeswoman Sandy Fatland said an autopsy was performed but it could be weeks before Ashley Picco’s cause of death is known.
The couple, married in 2007, met in New York when both were volunteers helping firefighters after the 9-11 attacks.
After his wife’s death, Picco sat with his son almost constantly, playing guitar, singing and crying. A friend captured the video of him doing “Blackbird.”
“It’s a song I really love, and I was looking to play songs that had kind of that melodic movement that might trigger something in him,” Picco told KABC-TV.
He said it was his wife who inspired him to sing to their son, recalling that she had told him how the baby would always move in her womb every time music was played.
“So I brought my guitar today and gave him a little concert,” he wrote on Facebook the day after his son’s birth. “Continue to pray for a miracle for my precious, perfect little guy!”