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.

Prima