Namo amitabha Buddhaya, y'all.
This here's a religious establishment. Act respectable.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Talk Thursday: Ashes to Ashes

One of the interesting things about Talk Thursday is that I never have any idea what I'm going to do with the topic until I sit down with it. Take this week's topic, for example. Ashes to Ashes. Most people think of death, and since I'm most people, I do, too. But I think about one particular death because of this lyric:

Ashes to ashes, earth to earth
The preacher throws in the first handful of dirt
My little boy asks me, "Does goodbye always hurt?"
--The Raphaels, "Life is a Church"

The guy who wrote that, W. Stuart Adamson, Junior, decided to remove himself from the planet a little over nine years ago at the most importune time possible. I can't imagine he was really trying to cause chaos and disruption for me in particular when he drank himself to death in a cheap hotel room in Hawaii, but damned if he didn't succeed anyway. 2001 wasn't a very good year for anybody, of course, what with buildings falling in New York and an idiot in the White House and the first X-Files movie coming out. Still, for me it was kind of the train wreck that divides my life into before and after. First Joan's mom, who had congestive heart failure and had been sick for years, died. Then a guy in my church choir felt a little sick to his stomach one day, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and died a week later. And then--this happened.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Stuart had disappeared about six weeks beforehand. He'd left a note for his teenage son that said something to the effect of "See you Sunday," and then dropped off the face of the earth. Apparently he was at a soccer game (football, if you're on the other side of the pond) with some friends some time later when he got a call on his cell phone. He made some excuse and left early, and that was the last anybody saw of him.

The weird thing is, he didn't really go anywhere. He checked into a hotel near Nashville, where he lived, and pretty much stayed right there, drinking and ordering in food, for most of the time everybody who knew him was going bananas trying to find him. The police were alerted. His credit cards were checked. Law enforcement bulletins were put out. His publicist even raised his voice. His fans, among them me, were emailing his photo around the still-fledgling Internet, the electronic version of knocking on doors and saying, "Have you seen this man?" Nothing. Nada. How he got to Hawaii was and is a complete mystery.

Anyway, he did get to Hawaii, and he did get even drunker than he already was and hang himself from a shower rod. His blood alcohol content was about three times the legal limit, which is basically fatal. And some 7,000 miles away, I was helping Joan clean her mom's apartment. I excused myself because I had to sing at my dead choir member's funeral and I needed to go home and take a shower first. I got as far as getting undressed when out of nowhere, this tidal wave of despair hit me. It was like all the light of the world got sucked into a void. I couldn't stand up under it. I put my shirt back on and lay down, not sure I'd ever get up again. And I stayed there, missing the funeral, as it got dark outside, until Joan came home and asked me if I was okay.

I was not okay.

But hell, what could I say? Hi, everything sucks and nothing will ever be all right again?

Here's the spooky thing. I didn't actually find out Stuart was dead until the following day, when it started getting splashed around the Internet and even made a few newspapers. "Eighties Singer Found Dead," that kind of thing. So here's what I'm thinking. I'm thinking I had a gen-you-ine psychic experience. I think I picked up on somebody else finding out Stuart was dead, and wham, it passed through that person's brain and into mine like a lightning bolt.

I'd love to know who.

Anyway. Ashes to ashes, earth to earth. I kept breathing, and life got better. What's more, I got medication, and it got better still. But I have no explanation for what happened that evening.


Cele said...

Personally I think thoughts and energies are just bouncing out there waiting, waiting, waiting for the right receptors. You were plugged in that day.

JulieAnn said...

Or you came face to face with what everyone comes face to face with--mortality. Even if it's a co-worker, a friend, a parent, a stranger you met at some convention, you are forced to deal with mortality when someone you know dies.

Mortality is a scary thing. It can cause despair in the best of us. Hell, it knocks me on my ass every day. The fact that your episode/derailment coincided with the singer's death is interesting, but I don't buy that it was psychic (sorry Cele). Magical thinking is more frightening to me than death.

Jen said...

Well, actually, my first thought was that I connected with The Man Himself, at the exact second he decided, "Oh, fuck it," but that would be a little dramatic even for me. Even if the timing is suspiciously eerie.

Joan was convinced her mom was still hanging around the apartment for a few days. She said she kept expecting her to come out of the other room and demand to know what in hell Joan was doing with all her stuff.

Anyway, there have been other strange things happen that I can't explain, but that's the only one that dealt with a dead semi-famous person.

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