Tag Archives: death

A Year of Loss and Learning

Hello again. Whoa. But for that little teaser about having an explanation for my absence, it’s been over a year since I wrote a blog post. Yeah, it’s been quite a while.

The ticker on the left says 425 people follow this blog, which makes me wonder:
Does that number indicate real people? How many of that figure are just ‘bots?
Who reads this? Why?
Are my personal anecdotes a bug or a feature?
One day I’ll do a survey to find out more about you, dear reader. In the meantime, feel free to shoot me an email or leave a comment.

But now, at the risk of TMI of a personal nature, I’ll tell you about the last 12 months in the life of your Close Personal Friend.

It was a year ago this month, almost to the day, that, while my sister and I were helping my 92-year-old mother in the shower, we discovered a small lump above her left breast. Three days before Christmas 2017, the doctor confirmed that it was inoperable breast cancer. With thanks to whatever great spirit watches over us, my mom felt no pain, and we made the holidays happy in spite of the news. A week in the hospital and a series of radiation treatments took up a large part of January.

Throughout the winter and spring of the new year, my mom enjoyed the loving care of many family members, friends, and hospice care professionals who helped to keep her comfortable and gave me great emotional support. Life went on, but my attitude toward work changed.

It’s not that music became less important to me. Au contraire! It was my solace, my escape, and my comforter. I still went to shows and took photos, and posted stories to AXS. But when it came to tracking new releases, following trends, or staying up-to-date on my social media postings, I didn’t have the bandwidth to worry about it.

Writing about music is not how I make a living. (If someone knows how that can be done in these days of free content everywhere, please advise.) I do it for the love of it, like a musician traveling in an old van and sleeping on floors for the thrill of a few hours of live music that reaffirm my faith in the power of sound. Taking a long break didn’t affect my budget and, to paraphrase the wonderful Courtney Barnett, nobody really cared if I didn’t come to the party.

In late May, I drove my mom to upstate New York, to the summer cottage that is her happiest place on earth. She spent the next few months sitting on a screened porch that looks out on Lake George, a gorgeous Adirondack vacation destination, and watched old musicals while sipping on root beer, slowly losing the ability to recognize the many people flocking to visit.

Mom passed away in her sleep on August 19. Our sorrow was tempered with gratitude that she died peacefully and surrounded by loved ones in her own home. We’re still dealing as a family with emotional frayed ends and tedious realities of finances, property, etc., but life is settling into new rhythms.

So, I’m an orphan now? Strange thought. My father died 13 years ago, after a long and difficult hospital stay. A few months after he passed, I was at a Death Cab for Cutie concert when the lyrics to “What Sarah Said” hit me like a sledgehammer:
“Love is watching someone die.”

I did that. It’s a cliché to say I have a new perspective on life, but many clichés exist because there is a truth to them. My head is full of new thoughts and stories and insights, and I’ve slowly worked my way back to where I feel like writing again. I look forward to blogging more regularly, redesigning this web site, relaunching WhatchaGonnaPlay.com and pursuing a bunch of self-publishing ideas.

Watch this space.
And thanks, as ever, for listening.

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