Saturday, January 18, 2014

And When I Die

I’m headed to Los Angeles to attend the funeral service of a friend. At age fifty-six, he had always been healthy. Yet that night his heart gave up and stopped beating. Did he know? Or did he just keep on flying, higher and higher, in some beautiful dream, determined not to come back to a cold, cruel world?

Did blocked arteries really end such a vital life? Or were there emotional scars, wounds that couldn’t heal, a heart broken one too many times? Was he tired of this rat race, the struggle for survival in a world that cares little for our dreams? What mental state propels one to leave for the other side?

Regardless, he is gone, this man who showed me the time of my life.

Still in shock, I wrestle with the finality of death. Before that text on Wednesday, I could never have imagined a world without Harold. He was out there, somewhere, creating music and being Him. We were on opposite ends of the country and no longer an item, but we stayed in touch. And in my heart I held out hope that one day we’d be together. Now he’s gone.

Thank God for shock, the blessed fugue-state that protects the remaining from the pain of separation. Sunday we say goodbye in the Hollywood Hills at Forest Lawn.

~ Olivia J. Herrell


It’s now the next day and the obituary is up. The shock is wearing off, replaced by an enormous sense of finality. A song plays through my head this morning, as if Harold is telling me to let him go. “I’m not scared of dying/And I don’t really care./If it’s peace you find in dying,/Well then let the time be near.” One line in particular plays over and over: “Just let me go naturally.”

So Harold, here’s to you. I love you. And always will.

Blood Sweat and Tears performing "And When I Die"


A.T. Post said...

I. Love. That. Song. And have ever since I heard on the radio driving home from work in Wyoming one night in summer 2007. It's one of my personal anthems.

Wow, Forest Lawn? I can't think of a prettier place to rest. I'll bet the ceremony was beautiful, as befitting such a beautiful life as you've described. My condolences on your loss. That was a lovely eulogy you wrote him. Seems strange that such minute things as platelets and hardened arteries can end something so significant as a human life. Wrong, somehow. We are connected to this life by such slender threads, fragile as flowers in the frost. Yet that makes them -- and us -- all the more precious. What say you?

Olivia J. Herrell, writing as O.J. Barré said...

I say yes!

Thank you for stopping by and for caring. I love that you love the oldies. Just proves that some songs (stories, anthems, tomes) are timeless and that the language of the heart has no accent.

Here's to you, my fine friend.

~ Olivia

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