Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Death in 2016

2016 has been a year of tremendous loss when it comes to musicians and actors. I remember David Bowie dying, then Prince. I'm not sure why, but I was shocked. I recall taking to Ghon about Prince. Nothing too specific, more about not knowing who he was since he was so private or what songs he wrote that I never realized. I listened to tributes and dedicated stations on the radio.

And then, Ghon died.

I had some people to talk to. Memories to share. A celebration of his life. And while I continue on, and some people still let me know they are around, or still grieve for him, many others have moved on.

When I found out that George Michael died a few days ago, on Christmas day, I was shocked. My first reaction was WHAT? NO! My second, was “I wonder if Ghon knows…I need to tell him….” I'm sure he'd have something snarky to say; he was far from a Wham! or George Michael fan and often poked fun at me, probably because he liked to see me get all worked up and angry and defensive over my choice in music preferences. Two days later, there’s another celebrity death. And another. Social media explodes again. Quotes, memes and stories about how these celebrities impacted their lives flood the internet. Just like I did when Ghon died.

People quip how 2016 sucks, and how they can’t wait for the year to be over, all in response to the number of celebrities that lost their lives this year.  I can’t help but to feel a little hurt when I see this. Yea, it sucks. These people will never make a movie, or cause tabloid headlines, or more importantly to me, create amazing music. I’m going to try not to belittle anyone’s loss, or how the death of these celebrities impacts them. I have listened to Wham! or George Michael all day, and will likely have him on heavy rotation the next few days. It’s my way of remembering him, yet, not really far from norm for me. He's always in my rotation.

Yet, when I see people cringing over the prospect of any more loss in 2016, or the hope for better luck in 2017 for celebrity health, there is part of me that wants to scream. My friend lost her father this year. Two others lost their mother. My children and stepchildren lost their father. I lost my husband. My husband. Despite the sometimes rocky relationship we had, the man I spent more than half of my life with. The man I committed myself to and lived with. ‘Til death do us part. I don’t have my best friend. My companion, my rock. My kids do not have their father. Their beacon of strength and safety. For this, I can’t stand hearing how the death of celebrities makes this such a horrible year.

News flash people, we all die. We will all meet the same fate. In the end, regardless if it is an accident, intentional, or negligence in our own self-care, we will die.  Just because these people entertained us and became famous doesn’t make their death any more important than anyone else’s death. True, more people will feel the impact. More people will mourn. We won’t be entertained in the same way. These things don’t make their death more important or less important than Ghon’s. Sure, we won’t know what movies they won’t appear in. We likely won’t know what song won’t be recorded – yet, there are dead musicians having albums released, so we may still get more music. But Ghon’s kids – they won’t have him at their weddings. He won’t be at their graduations. He wasn’t able to be a grandfather. He can’t teach them to shoot, to hunt, to drive, to appreciate the outdoors. He can’t teach Jonathan how to shave. He can’t intimidate Genevieve’s first boyfriends. These are things that we KNOW won’t happen. I lost my biggest cheerleader. My #1 supporter.  Just a little different from living with the death of a celebrity.  If you were related to or a close friend of a deceased celebrity – you get a pass. You’re not dealing with the death of a celebrity – but of a friend or relative.

Experiences make us grow if we let them. Not just death, but make-ups, break-ups, births of our children, marriage, divorce, friendships made, friendships lost, change in jobs, you name, it – you live it – if you let it – every experience can make or break you. Ghon’s death won’t break me. I have two little people that depend on me now  more than ever. I’m not sure if it will make me – but it has, and will continue to make me different from who I was. I’m simply not the same person, and struggle some days with my new identity. Just one example for you. Think about your basic survey forms. Chose one please.
·         Single
·         Married
·         Divorced

Well, hells bells. When I woke up June 18, 2016, I was married. I went to bed a widow. Not a standard option. What do you choose? If widowed happens to be there, it’s easy. When it’s not, I have think about the purpose of the form and then choose. I still wear my wedding band, but legally, or for taxation purposes, this chick is single. After 21 years, that is so hard to say.

George is pumping through my ears right now. I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to see him live. I love music and seeing live shows. Seriously, I have music notes tattooed behind my ear, not because I play, but because I love to listen. To sing in the car at the top of my lungs. (Because my sister ruined singing in the shower for me when I was a kid, but that’s a different story). Music moves me. I have my go to songs for invoking joy, those that wake me, those that make me want to run (and I’m not a runner), songs that will make me cry, songs that are relaxing and those that are great for background noise. Music creates memories.

Thanks to our experiences, at different points in our lives, lyrics may take on new meaning. They may have never meant to me what they meant to their author – and that’s OK. Music is about expression.  Songs that may have made me smile before may now make me cry. I sometimes feel lyrics differently.

This George Michael song, Waiting for That Day, was always a favorite of mine. It’s from the Listen Without Prejudice Vol 1 album. Released in 1991, I was oh, about 14 years old. Oh to lament about break-ups…such a great song. And while I still see it as a breakup song, there are lines, bolded below, that bring me to instant tears today. I’d listened to it a few weeks ago, or maybe a couple months ago, and it had the same impact. I've had to wipe my tears before getting out of my car, dab them away in my cube and dash to the bathroom to check my face. Emotion. Emotion is real and necessary.
(Go ahead and click on that link and listen along...let me know if you don't cry while remembering a loved one - whether they be gone by choice or by death.)

So every day I see you in some other face
They crack a smile, talk a while
Try to take your place
My memory serves me far too well

I just sit here on this mountain thinking to myself
You're a fool boy
Why don't you go down
Find somebody
Find somebody else
My memory serves me far too well

It's not as though we just broke up
It's not as though it was yesterday
But something I just can't explain
Something in me needs this pain
I know I'll never see your face again

C'mon now
I've got to be strong now

Now everybody's talking about this new decade
Like you say the magic numbers
Then just say goodbye to
The stupid mistakes you made
Oh my memory serves me far too well

Don't you know that
The years will come and go
Some of us will change our lives
Some of us still have nothing to show
Nothing baby
But memories

And if these wounds
They are self-inflicted
I don't really know
How my poor heart could have protected me

But if I have to carry this pain
If you will not share the blame
I deserve to see your face again

C'mon now
You don't have to be so strong now

Come back
Come back to me darling
I will make it worth your while
Come back to your baby
I miss your kiss
I miss your smile

Seems to me the peace I search to find
Ain't going to be mine until you say you will
Don't you keep me waiting for that day
I know, I know, I know
You hear these words that I say
You can't always get what you want.

I miss Ghon terribly. I ‘survived’ his birthday. I ‘survived’ the 6 month anniversary. I ‘survived’ Christmas. Of course I survived. But the pain – the pain is real. I know I have friends that tell me I can talk to them at any time. But sometimes, I just don’t want to talk. I think I moved through so much early as a result of shock. I need to feel the pain now. And there are times that I do talk about Ghon, but the times I hurt – I’m not sure there is anything to say. It’s just like the times where Jonathan just looks at me and says, “I miss Daddy”, and all I can do is respond with “me too.”  What is there to talk about? I know despite him not being here physically, he is here in Spirit.  I will see him again one day. I’m not trying to rush that time at all, but if I could get what I wanted, he’d be here now. And I can’t get what I want.

Yes, 2016 has sucked if you were an aging celebrity. It seems to suck even more since so many "idols" are, well, older. Madonna and Betty White need to watch their backs for the next three days. 

But 2016 also sucks when you are suddenly a single mom of two living in a farmhouse made for 4+ in a country town when you are city girl and have a fear of snakes, mice, bad guys and no clue about septic systems, creaky noises and are cold at night. 

But 2016, well, 2016 has also been a good year. I am now living in a farmhouse with my kids that my husband and I worked so hard on for so long. I've sent mice to mouse heaven, found septic companies and bought down blankets and long underwear. I have friends help me prescreen the attic for snakes. My kids are learning to face fears, to live, love and remember, and to be thankful. We've seen an outpouring of love and support, made new friends and strengthened other relationships. I got a new job and my very own mortgage (who, other than me, celebrates stuff like that?). Ghon was battling a long seeded depression and was getting help. He was enjoying his photography and making plans to transition into full-time farming. He was getting his health issues fixed - until unknown and unexpected complications from that fix took his life. 

But with his death, he found freedom. Freedom from the physical pain he suffered since I'd known him. From the mental anguish - never feeling like he was good enough. He is reunited with his parents and grandparents, who meant the world to him. He's free - from all the stress he felt or created here. He's finally free. And with his freedom, he's given me freedom. I've lived for so long with my identity defined by the kids and Ghon that I have no clue who I am. He's given me the chance, even in death, to figure how who I am. And doing that without him - as twisted as that sounds - is so hard. I just don't know where to begin.

So 2016; you've been a very weird year and well, for the most part, I am glad to see you end and am ready for 2017.

With every end, there is a new beginning. As with every death; an end - there is life; a beginning. 

Peace and love to all of you that finished reading this rambling. May you find hope in the beginning each end brings to you. 


  1. Kim what a beautiful expression of life, love, and emotion. I think you were born to write and share your experiences with the world. You have a natural ability to express feelings and tie them to human experience that people can truly relate to. May God bless you and bring you wonderful experiences in 2017, and the continued ability to touch the hearts and souls of those who are graced to know you. Love ya, Tana

    1. Thank you - and much love to you Tana.

  2. Amazingly eloquent, as always. Your strength inspires me and has helped me to be stronger in ways you will never know. I know you don't always feel strong - and that's okay - but you are a shining example of life and what it can be; what it truly means to live. Sending love, every day.

  3. 2016 was a hard year I believe, we lost so many people in it but that's the part of life, whoever comes to the world have to return