Good-bye Johnny V

Playing guitar

Playing guitar (Photo credit: hugochisholm)

“Writing is a way to fathom what we have lost, to make sense out of what makes no sense….I don’t believe everything happens for a reason, but I have faith in our ability to retrieve from loss something valuable to keep, or to give away.” ~ Abigail Thomas, Thinking About Memoir

A friend once said to me that life is one loss after another. She had just lost someone close to her, and was in a melancholy mood. But she was right. We lose our parents. We lose our friends. We lose our relatives. And sometimes in that loss, we temporarily lose ourselves.

A family friend just passed away suddenly. A friend who is my age. It was a shock. And though I knew him as a polite and talented man, he was a mentor to my eldest son, and someone whom my husband admired greatly. He came into their lives by chance, but he made both of their lives better for having known him.

I watch the way they both cope, and they cope in different ways. My husband copes by “doing something”—by taking food over to the brand new widow, who is still in shock and deep grief. He handles things “head on” when it comes to loss. My son though, is having trouble dealing with the loss—he cannot face seeing the widow, as his grief is too fresh, too on the surface and he feels he would be no comfort to her until he comes to some understanding of his loss.

My son is a musician. His mentor was a musician, renown across Canada. He gave my son lessons, not only in guitar, but life. He was also my husband’s friend, a man with strong opinions and beliefs—both things my husband admires. He was a renaissance man of sorts, music was his main game, but he liked to cook and bake, and spread his good cheer to his friends.

As I mentioned, I did not know him well, but I knew him enough to grieve his passing, to feel the loss that my husband and son feel. And to grasp life as I did not before. This message is sent again and again—life can be taken away from us in less time than it takes to blink. Need I say we should not take it for granted? (And how do we remember that in times when we are not feeling loss?)

On the weekend, we will celebrate this man’s life and music. Celebrate not mourn. That is all part of the journey. I have my own rather simplistic view that death is not the end, that it is a new beginning—but I recognize that it is a loss nonetheless

And what do we keep? We keep him in our hearts and our minds. We remember. There is no bliss in loss until we can come to grips with  it. Then the bliss is realizing that we had the gift of knowing the person, and appreciating what we received uniquely from them.


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34 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I couldn’t say it any better. Lovely post. I am very sorry for your loss, but overjoyed he was such a part of your lives. You take away some wonderful memories.

  2. That was written in a lovely way. Such a nice tribute. I’m sorry for your and your family’s loss.

  3. I’m sorry for this loss … but your post was such a lovely tribute. I remember the shock of my first ‘loss’ of a friend when I was in college.. it was shocking, confusing, unbelievable. Now in my 60’s the losses are coming more often, but it doesn’t make it easier. I’m afraid your friend is right … but we have to live our lives and find happiness in between those inevitable losses. Sometimes that’s very hard to do.

    • we have to learn to deal with the losses as they are going to be an inevitable part of my life as I get older

  4. Oh LouAnn, I am so very sorry!! I feel for all of you, but especially for your son because he was his mentor, and young people take death very hard. You are so right that there is a journey afterwards – your son and husband will handle things their own ways but will both have to travel the road from grief to a sort of acceptance, where they will finally be grateful to have had those special times with Johnny V, and they will realize how fortunate they were to have him as part of their lives, even if it was cut short. Hugs to all of you!!

    • what a heartfelt reply – thanks so much, and you are right about the young having a hard time handling death–it is almost a little death for them

  5. Lovely tribute, LouAnn. I’m sorry for your family’s loss. Grief is part of life and I know your son will grow and learn from the precious time he spent with his mentor, but it’s hard right now. I think a life Celebration is a wonderful way to honor his friend and start the healing. Thank you for sharing what’s going on.

    • thank you for appreciating it and your words of comfort Cathy–it means a lot

  6. I’m very sorry for your loss, LouAnn. And so glad for all the gifts your friend left behind to celebrate! xoxoM

    • thanks Margarita–it is the only way to look at it and get through it– especially for my son

  7. We all have to cope with death in our own way, because of our own special relationship with the person who had died. A Celebration of life sounds so much better than a funeral. My condolences to you, your husband and son.

    • Thanks so much Bonnie–and yes we all have our own ways of coping, or have to find a way to cope

  8. It’s so true that we all handle grief and loss in different ways…I don’t know how old your son is but it is sometimes harder when you are younger to understand the reasons ….when there sometimes is no reason…it just ‘is’….Diane

    • that is what he is having trouble with–you have to comes to terms with “no rhyme or reason” because we cannot always understand

  9. I’m sorry your family lost someone close to them. Your son will take his own lesson from this in time, it’s hard to deal with losses at a young age. In the last few years I have lost people I was close to both now and years ago, it’s quite a shock to learn of a loss when you didn’t see it coming. In the end, when the pain subsides, it’s those memories and what I received from their lives that lives on.

    • that is very wise, and something we need to remember as we go through the tough times–thank you

  10. How sad. I’m so sorry that you’ve had this loss. He sounds like he was a wonderful person. Anyone who gives life lessons along with guitar lessons is a pretty special spirit. I’m glad you are celebrating his life and that you had the chance to share his mortal experience. I do believe that we will see each other again. That belief makes it a little easier to get through the process, I suppose — but not much. 😦
    These losses that we experience are sometimes so jarring. I think they present us with an opportunity to look at our own lives and re-assess what is important.

    • your last paragraph says it all — but we must remember that all the time–thank you for your words of comfort Lisa–as always you are right on the money

  11. What a beautiful tribute ~ I love that you will celebrate his life. xo So sorry for your loss.

  12. Lovely post, LouAnn. So sorry for your loss. Giving thanks for someone’s life is the best and most comforting way to deal with death.

  13. Such a beautiful way to honour someone so important my friend, my condolences.


  14. A lovely post for Johnny V.
    May he rest in peace.

  15. I agree with everyone that this is a beautiful and moving tribute. Losing someone is extremely hard to come to terms with but as you said, celebrating the beauty and wonder of this man’s life is the right attitude to have I think, in the midst of grief. All my best to you and your family.

    • thank you for your good thoughts– yes, I do believe that the best way to deal with grief is the celebrate the person’s life

  16. This was a beautiful post LouAnn, tender and thoughtful. And it’s hard to watch those close to us hurting, too, . Maybe in the end you may have been both enriched by his life, and also by dealing with his loss… thinking of you

    • Valerie — what you said was very thoughtful–and we must get used to dealing with loss, I guess, though it is not easy to watch my son go through it

  17. I am sorry for your family’s loss LouAnn. This post was so well written, tenderly describing the grieving process and how it differs for everyone. I also believe in the celebration of life at this time. Sending warm thoughts your way.

    • thanks so much – appreciate your good thoughts – we each grieve in our way and though it is a difficult process, it is a necessary one

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