This blog was written last week, just days before the shootings in Las Vegas and the death of Tom Petty. They are not referenced here but clearly add to the point I am trying to make--such huge, and ongoing losses.
I’m not sure I’m as resilient emotionally as I was a couple of years ago. I don’t want to imply that people’s deaths didn’t always affect me negatively, but prior to that I feel like I was able to compartmentalize the grief more effectively.
Now, when I find out someone that I care about has died, there’s no compartmentalization. The grief just overflows and runs into every pore of what I’m doing or thinking. The loss doesn’t clear out to make way for the next bit of sad news about another friend who has died. Historically, I would be sad but philosophical, thus causing space between episodes of grief. Now I worry about the next shoe to drop.
My baseline grief has been compromised. The water never completely subsides before the next wave crashes in. It builds up–every loss seems to compound on top of the last. I think to myself “Will this NEVER end?” Answer: “NO, get used to it.”
The time between losses is, or seems to be, getting more brief. Within the last couple of months, I “lost” my best friend from college, Todd Cannon; Michael Johnson, a gifted guitarist and singer/songwriter whom I worked with at RCA and remained friends with; and Bill Collings, the exceptional luthier who built Pete’s guitars and bestowed massive kindness upon us in our multiple times of need. Can’t a girl catch her breath please?
This issue was made crystal clear to me when I was recently working in Montana. I gifted myself an honest-to-God day off to drive into Yellowstone National Park to see one of my fave natural wonders—Old Faithful.
I was saddled with a rental car because my Toyota 4-Runner had been sidelined by …you guessed it…an airbag recall. However, one asset of this car was a screen, which, albeit a driving hazard, gave me a visual listing of every tune in my phone. All I had to do was touch the screen to hear a song. Regular readers know that I have an issue with PUSHING PLAY, but I decided that on this beautiful day in Paradise Valley I was going to listen to music, with the windows rolled down, and I was going to do it in alphabetical order. I scrolled through and listened to some of my favorites: Eva Cassidy, John Denver, Dan Fogelberg, Michael Johnson, Pete (of course) Al Jarreau, Harry Nilsson, and Keith Whitley. Are you seeing the trend? It didn’t occur to me until I was well into the park that all these great talents had died. Talk about feeling a loss. I felt it for everyone who loves music.
In fact, earlier in the week, during the guitar camp that I host, one of the instructors was teaching “Wichita Lineman” when, right at that moment, I got a text that Glen Campbell had died. What??? Am I some sort of grief magnet?
I know that as we get older these events have a shorter timespan between occurrences. I can only imagine how my parents feel at ages 78 and 82, but it just sucks to feel the loss of great loves, and talents, and friends—each one has given so much to this world, to my world. I’d like to share with you.