Happy birthday, friend of mine. Your voice has soothed and uplifted me, brought me sunshine and made me brave, all throughout my life so far. As an eight year old, I could not get enough of Black Hole Sun. Years later, Euphoria Morning, especially Preaching the End of the World, was my favorite to listen to. And then, of course, came Audioslave, the band that joined the strongest voice in history with fuckin’ Rage Against The Machine.
Then you went and killed yourself and just like that, the voice that grew me up was gone. I really took that personally, far more so than I expected. I found out from NPR, about 5:45 in the morning. I cried, all day.
Who cries like that for some singer? Nobody said it, maybe nobody even thought it, but I still felt like such a fool. Finding out you killed yourself made some small glow snuff out inside me. I swore I’d never listen to your music again.
That night at home I kept to myself, avoiding your voice while reading article after article about your life and death. Suceeding, until my well intentioned husband sent me this cover of Nothing Compares 2 U. From the first note you sang, the stony anger began breaking inside me, and man, did I mourn you. Just what I needed, too, and right after that I felt okay again.
Lucky me, having that luxury of letting go so quickly, unlike two kids and a wife left behind. Like millions, I mourn what you and your music represented in my life: your brain, vocal cords, fingers and soul above all else. To the few who really matter, though: you were so much more. I digress.
I stopped crying, cheered up and moved on, but I don’t feel better. Better doesn’t belong here.
Here’s how I feel: We are all rock stars in the sold out stadium of our minds. Some days, instead, it’s a mostly empty dive bar that doesn’t even offer darts. Maybe yours was worse, a tiny dingy apartment with a busted bag of instruments and a phone that never rang. I don’t know. I do know plenty of people who’ve killed themselves, for all kinds of reasons including no reason at all. Your buddy hanged himself this morning, in fact, just like you. Let’s hope it’s not catching.
None of you died. You didn’t “commit” anything. You killed yourself. It is that final act of accountability that I hold onto, no matter how hard I try to let it go. Loving someone who ends their own life robs you of peace. The desire to hate and the desire to forgive are at war and, for me anyway, the desire to hate wins. Just barely, but it wins.
I still play I Am The Highway when I’m feeling lonely, and I’ll still play you on long road trips, screaming lyrics at the top of my lungs. But I don’t think I’ll ever stop being just a little angry at you for what you threw away.
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