So the hubster and I were out of town last week, and I had the perfect post to write the day I got back. I wrote most of it, and had been tweaking it here and there in my spare time, but for some reason didn’t post it. The reason, I suppose, ended up being that while at rehearsal with the band on Saturday, my phone rang (which I would normally ignore and check when we were done, but my gut told me to answer) and I found out that a particularly wonderful man that I have worked with for the last few years had rather suddenly passed away.
Have you guys experienced that feeling of the world screeching to a halt, the sudden clear realization that all of the things you were worried about one second ago are so damned trivial, and that everything is different? It’s a numbing, sobering rush of sadness knowing that a light has been snuffed out. You go though the ‘this isn’t real, right?’ and the realization that the times and places you would normally share with that person will be forever changed. You shed a tear. Loss is such a personal process, and inevitably, other people are affected by the same death, but in totally different ways, so no matter what you say, it feels awkward and empty. ‘How are you?’ ‘I’m so sorry.’ ‘If there’s anything I can do…’ They’ve all been said a million times, and deeply meant I’m sure, but when said seem hollow and not helpful at all. Is there anything harder than grieving? Yes. Grieving en masse at a funeral. It’s uncomfortable, it’s painfully personal, it’s ugly, and although everyone is there for the same reason, it is so difficult to be around others when you are in that place, and I am not particularly looking forward to it. But the beautiful thing about humanity is that we not only have ourselves, we have one another, and there is something freeing about a moment in which you allow the mask to slip, to shed a tear, to let your voice waver in front of others and have it be okay. Yes, death is real, but life is everything, and that is what our loved ones would say to us if they could. It’s what you and I have, right now – the promise and the possibility of another hour, another minute, in which we can create our lives – and a death is a reminder of that. Bittersweet, mostly bitter actually, but necessary.
My reminder was the passing of a man we called Buck, a sweet, sweet soul. He was offbeat, a real character – he could crack you up with a look. He and I would sing along to the classic rock tunes we both loved as we set up in the mornings, and if he didn’t know the words, he would make them up, in an admittedly terrible voice that he used without abandon, loud and proud and terrible, especially on the high notes. As a musician in a city of musicians, it’s sometimes hard to find people who support, understand, and respect what you do, but every time I saw him he asked about our new album, the process, the sound, the producers recording it, the next gig (he always came!), and insisted he would get the first copy, signed. He was worse than my mom with the nagging about ‘when is it going to be out?!?’ and he insisted on approving the new name of our band before we could adopt it officially. One year at the Christmas party, my then fiance was in charge of keeping the gift exchange straight. Buck wrote that his Christmas wish was for ‘Tom to get hit by a C train so I can marry Tara’ – a textbook example of his wit. He was the kind of person that when he asked you how you were, he actually wanted to know. He was a light. He was family. And his passing has given me a stinging reminder that life is short, that every moment holds distinct possibility, but that your kindness is what people remember when you’re gone. So for the ones you’ve lost, and for Buckie, take a deep breath, guys, and be a little kinder to those around you today. They’ll know.