A death is a good time to remember a life; to reflect on how lives affect and interact with each other. Reflection goes on for years after a person is gone, forever shifting in the memories and realisations left behind.
I remember listening to Leonard Cohen in the dark of the wine shop I worked in, after hours, when we had locked the doors and turned the music up and opened a bottle. Jane told me to listen to this: her favourite Leonard Cohen song. Different to my favourite Leonard Cohen song, but in this time of his departure its this shared memory that comes back to me. I can see her clearly, sitting on a wine crate, cigarette in one hand, glass in the other, eyes closed.
“And you who had the honor of her evening,
And by the honor had your own restored –
Say goodbye to Alexandra leaving;
Alexandra leaving with her lord.”
It is remarkable that one person has written so many words, so perfectly poignant, so ready to be repeated to ourselves and to each other. But everyone, when they depart, leaves behind moments and words and memories and making sense of them takes forever. There is something very sweet in mourning someone collectively loved, collectively known. There is no need to explain this loss to someone.
When my dad passed away, almost two years ago now, I had so little understanding of death and grief. I had had no experience of loss like that. I didn’t know what to do or expect or feel even. And I had no way of explaining it to anyone else. I don’t think the process of mourning and remembering him will ever end, of making sense of our life together and our lives apart, before I arrived and after he was gone.
But I know that every time another person leaves us, especially these artists, who meant so much to him and to me, it is another chance to process, to reflect, to feel sad and happy and most of all grateful for the people who’ve shaped us. My dad loved Leonard Cohen, he loved all kinds of music and there is no question that this is what he gave me, and how he shaped me. And with every passing year and every passing inspiration I remember a childhood filled with music and think about how it led me to the life I live now.