Ode to My Youth Disappearing – Chris Cornell

I took the first morning flight out of town on Thursday and had a layover in Atlanta. As I sat at my connecting  gate I looked up at the television screen hovering above the chairs. To my horror, disbelief, utter bewilderment, I watched as a newscaster announced the death of Chris Cornell.

No, it simply couldn’t be true. I covered my mouth with my hands, my eyes welled with tears. A teenager playing a hand-held game across from me, noticed my face which I am sure he thought meant I had lost a family member, and turned to look at what I was staring at. Of course he could not imagine what I was feeling, experiencing. Who could? I had friends who accepted it, but like punk, it took someone special to understand what it meant. Grunge played a seminal role in my young life, as I was just emerging into who I wanted to be in my early 20’s. It allowed me a certain amount of freedom (along with a 2,000 mile distance from my parents) to rebel, experiment, come into my own. I will admit that Nirvana and Pearl Jam were the first to feed my soul. There were countless February days when my best friend and I would layer up and pile into her Alfa Romeo and simply drive everywhere – the highways, the back roads, anywhere with the top down and the music blaring, to help us forget we had no idea what we were doing with our lives, besides living. #Adulting was no where near our vocabulary or anyone’s – Tim Berners Lee was just inventing the www.

In the early days I was addicted to the Seattle scene, as well as my southern CA boys, the Red Hot Chili Peppers. My roommate, the one I had moved to the west with, was into country and indie bands, which was interesting. But grunge and punk, they had my soul. The sound resonated in my veins, with every heartbeat, every breath in my body.

I was lost for a few years after college, but the Seattle scene made it all seem okay. It gave me my own poets, with raw energy, who were just as confused as I was. Who were trying to find themselves as well. They helped me through those difficult years, and continued to always be a balm in my life when everything else was chaos. When I found my husband dead. When I sit alone and feeling unloved, or the last person on the “important” list – isn’t that why I had the affair? Because the boy who entranced me, gave me the attention I craved, sounded just like the grunge boys?

Layne Stanley was not a surprise, though that is not to say it wasn’t  great loss. What a voice. I still listen over and over to them, wishing I could sing like that. Scott Weiland lived much longer than I imagined he would. Thank god Perry Farrell is still alive, and Flea and all of the RHCP. Yes, I was in love with Eddie Vedder for years, and even stalked him or his doppelganger at one point, but that is a story for another post, if anyone is interested…

Chris Cornell was on my radar from day one, but like Dave Grohl, I didn’t appreciate him until later…of course I knew of Soundgarden, Temple of the Dog, of him. But it wasn’t until later that I began to appreciate him, his talent. Hell, I even have a post on here from his band AudioSlave. He could do anything. He was so talented. And had the bluest eyes. Vicky, I know I have no right to address you, but I am so sorry. I lost my husband suddenly as well. Without warning, Expecting the next day to be like the last. Never imagining everything would be tossed upside down within a moment, a minute, an hour, a day. I grieve for you and your children. I am so sorry.

And, selfishly, I am sorry for myself. I cannot handle this. I am so exhausted from death. It is all around me. My partner and I spent 5 hours yesterday trying to cut down a fallen tree across a path my father walks to dog on (though the dog refuses to walk anymore) and my father cannot stand up straight, his spine is so fucked up – something waiting for me as I age, as well as my mother’s Alzheimer’s. It was not a good day. It was not a good visit. I barely got to see J, although we were spoiled by hotels and restaurants when we were together, I had a job interview and then family and we were both exhausted. Coming on the heels of an unimaginable death, I barely could hold it together. And I lost it today, when I said goodbye to him. Life is too short. Once again, I am reminded of this horrid reality.

I want to cry my eyes out, because I thought he had beat it. But if it was caused by Lorazepam, I also understand. I was on that medication for 2 days. I turned into a monster. I wanted to kill myself and anyone else that came into my path. Thank god J told me on the phone that I had become aggressive and something was wrong, which made me call my shrink (after I looked up side-effects) and was told to stop it immediately. It is a horrid drug. If he was on it and fell on black days, then I understand why it could drive him to do it. Though, I do not agree with it. I do not condone it. These fucking drug companies who think they know what is best “for us”. FUCK them.

He was a master at his craft. Like Bowie. Perhaps I am getting too old and my youth is gone. Those I looked up to are human, mortal, die. But I don’t deal with death well. And I never will. The first experience I had was too much. And now I just press the brake if I see it coming. This death came out of nowhere, and that’s what hurts the most. That’s when you get the punch in the stomach and cannot breathe.

FUCK. He shouldn’t have died. There was no reason. And I think I will always grieve it. Although I never knew him, met him. I felt something, and it spoke to me. And it gave me a purpose in my young life. I believed. I believed I didn’t have to follow the “norm” that all my other college fellows were following. That I could be a rebel. I could experiment. I could be who I wanted to be, without having to be who others expected me to be.

He gave me an avenue to freedom. I thought I would have many more years of that philosophy, experience, knowledge. I can’t stop mourning. Crying. Why did this have to happen?

There will never be a clear answer, just like when I lost my husband 13 years ago. It will always be something that is out of reach…the answer.

© Sorrow & Kindness


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