On and on the rain will say
How fragile we are, how fragile we are
– Gordon Sumner
Just before we left the house for Abbey Road that night, Bronne and I were laughing hysterically at this thing that we did where, as we stood locked in an embrace, we’d rock each other to and fro by the knees. It was so cartoon-silly, just right up our humor alley that we were in stitches up until we drove up Abbey Road’s parking lot. As we spotted the EMT vehicles and the fire truck lined up at the entrance, we immediately ceased laughing.
Have you ever been to an open jam? The venue would always be filled with loud music and bustling energy from musicians and music lovers (and haters). Some people would be moving from one table to another like bees, saying hello, catching up. Some would be seated, chatting, often a little too loudly to compete with the music on stage. You’d hear the sound of silverware and clinking of glasses as people dined or drank. You’d hear applause. You’d hear laughter. It’s an event of sounds. In some venues, I would even call it noise.
But have you ever been to an open jam that was silent? I have. It was a scary thing to walk in hearing no music, no voices of people chattering away. All I heard was the sound of the EMTs trying to revive the person lying on the stage floor. People were still and most eyes were on stage, some were filled with tears, and some with terror.
Despite the silence the air was heavy with thoughts, they reverberated in the room like music. As I looked around, I could feel people praying or reaching out to their loved ones, wishing them all well, sending out their love. I could feel people’s sadness as they think of persons they’ve lost that were dear to their hearts, the memories of loss unearthed by the tremors caused by this tragedy. I could feel fear as people thought of their own mortality and how fleeting life is.
And what of the man on stage who fought for his life? His name was JJ. We were too late to meet him. He was playing a solo on his guitar when he collapsed. People were commenting on how good he was, we heard. He was creating music that moved. Suddenly, the music stopped. And, despite the quick response of some of the people at the open jam and the EMTs, he didn’t make it. JJ was a husband and a father of two. He was a friend to one of our dearest friends, Charlie, and, I’m sure, to many others.
Some people said that night that maybe it was how JJ would have wanted to go, lost in the middle of a superb solo, enveloped by music, surrounded by musicians and listeners who appreciated his guitar skills. It’s a comfort to think of such things when people pass away suddenly. It’s our way of coping with the shock of it all. Maybe he would have wanted differently, to pass away in the midst of his family or maybe alone in his den playing his guitar. But we can’t think of that because they didn’t happen. So we soothe our fears and sorrow with the thought that somehow he was happy in his last moments.
As I write this, I think of all of my loved ones, family or friend. I send you all love. I send this to you because no one knows when their song is up, and when silence replaces sound, it’s too late to say “I love you”. The words will fall on deaf ears. I remind myself to say the words to the people I love while they can hear me, embrace them while they can feel me. I should love the people I love, and love them well. Now. The time to love is now.