I really want to scream.
I wake up this morning, dragging myself out of bed. I’m yawny and blurry and dreading my 8:30am workout. I roll over, grab my glasses and pick up my phone to see what I missed on social media. God forbid, I miss something important, since it’s been a whole four hours when I last tried to sleep. And then I see a text from one of my dear friends, to tell me that someone we love died last night.
Fuck. Fucking fuck. I can’t. Shock is weird. It’s like someone took out my brain and hung it on the ceiling right above my head and it’s throbbing. I’m feeling so many things, but I don’t actually know one thing I’m feeling. I can toss out the usual reactions: disbelief, shock, sadness. I can’t think or type the right words to even describe what that feels like…I can only explain that it was more like I’m slouching on the side of my bed, with an elephant sitting on my chest and I just can’t find a breath to take.
First thoughts….first thoughts…it’s not real. I think of his life partner. I think of his family. I pray that he didn’t feel pain. I angry-cry about him being too fucking YOUNG. Warning: I’m going to spill the beans and share all the crazy shit that was going on in my head. It’s embarrassing, but maybe something relatable. Or maybe it’s just thoughts that prove that I need professional help. But it’s real, it’s raw and it’s the truth. And it all comes from me hoping that in our very last days, we know how much we are loved.
My mind is a Rolodex, flipping to the last time I talked to him. Flip, flip, flip…when was that? I just had an email exchange with him a week ago…two weeks ago…was it a month ago? It could have been six. It was business. About a booking? Was I loving, responsive and kind? Or was I curt, short and to the point? Is that the last impression he got from me? Did he know how much he meant to me? Did I tell him how much he meant to me? Fuck. No, I didn’t. We, as humans, don’t do that all day, every day. It was business about a booking…it was…normal day stuff.
More thoughts are spewing: why didn’t I tell him how much he meant to me on one of the last times I saw him. That time recently at a show. When I saw him looking up at me, smiling at me, watching me from off-stage. Why didn’t I scream out to him, “I love you and I am grateful for you in my life, my friend?” He deserved to hear that every day. We all do. But we don’t think that every time we say goodbye to someone…that it might be the very last time.
I want time back. I want the early days with my old pal, when we were jamming in his family room in the first band I was ever in, when I was in the best times of my life and I didn’t know it, and he was teaching me Chaka Khan tunes and we were drinking PBR; underage and unforgiving, I want to go back to that and take his face in my hands and say, thank you for being in my life.
And then when we re-connected through music in the last few years…he found out that, even though I’m an old Golden Girl now, I’m still musically at it, kicking around on stages and still fighting the old gal fight. He heard I was still singing, and he reached out to me with that beautifully gargantuan smile and said, “Hey. Let’s do something with your music,” Then again, I should have taken his face in my hands and said thank you for again for still being in my life.
Recently, he hired me to sing in a place, and there was a random hole in the floor. He quietly, yet deftly remembered that I am, and always will be, a ditz. AKA: a girl who will always fall into holes. He pointed down and said, “Heather, don’t fall in that hole.” I walked past that hole in the floor without incident, turning back at him with a smirk on my face and simultaneously patting myself on my own back. Then he pointed to a door in the back of the room and gave me a warning look. “Walk through here. It’s cool behind there, but be careful.” Obviously, I strutted through that door and I immediately fell way down into a much bigger hole. But it was a fun fall, because I got to hear that old laugh. It was lovely; ringing robust and true just like those good old days.
What now. I feel too many things. Mostly I feel so deeply sad for his amazing partner and his loved ones; all the people who will feel the loss every day. I’m feeling again so much sadness for those who will now have to walk around everything and everyday without him.
Now it’s the wee small hours. What to do now? Gradually all day, I was checking Facebook, watching how so many people were grasping to mourn such a tragedy. Share how much they loved this man by posting pictures and stories and dedications. I did the same, trying to to connect and grieve together. There were so many loved ones, yearning helplessly to write to him and tell this magnificent person one more time how much they loved him…hoping so hard that he can hear all of us from up above. It’s so desperate and yet so very needed for many of those left behind. All so overwhelming and heartbreaking and scary and final.
I once had this kind friend in high school and he asked me to be in a band. He taught me things about music that I still sing out of my mouth today. Lately, he found me again and I got to see that wide, electric smile and share some laughs and a great love for music. Then, we lost him too soon and I wish I had more. I wish I did more.
Ferris nailed it: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
Life is, indeed, gorgeous. It’s work. It’s tiring, yet so rewarding. It’s filled will so many layers and it is enveloped with all the different kinds of love. It fills your heart and it breaks your heart and then it’s over way too soon. My old friend, thank you for your friendship. Heaven is jamming to your serious super-funk tonight and for always. How lucky are they up there? How lucky were we down here. XO MT.