Mondays are never easy, but this Monday will be remembered by my kids as the Monday When Mommy Was Crying in Carpool.
My husband texted me at 7:10am with these words:
“Just heard that David Bowie passed. :(”
As my 4 year old struggled to get the toothpaste onto his Spiderman toothbrush, I struggled out of my sports bra with one hand, and searched “Heroes” on my iPhone with the other hand. The soaring melody took flight, and I started to cry. I cried through my shower, and I cried the entire drive to school, forcing the carpool to listen to “Under Pressure.” The kids were absolutely silent, the poor things.
My oldest asked finally, “Mom, I’m really sorry that he died, but like, you’ve never even mentioned this guy’s name to us, and now you’re, like, really really crying…??”
She makes an excellent point. My David Bowie appreciation years predated the birth of my kids. It's been a long time since I binged on him. So why am I so emotional? Judging by my Facebook feed, it seems I'm not alone.
I think that Bowie’s death isn’t just his death. It isn’t just the shocking realization that someone as otherworldly as the Man Who Fell to Earth is just as mortal as we are. And it isn’t just that a creative genius‑ who gave literally zero fucks‑ is no more. And for the record, that's plenty to mourn. Plenty.
Bowie’s death hits hard because it feels like an ending closer to home. Listening to Heroes this morning reminded me of a golden time in my 20s when my friend Ted and I had a standing Thursday night gig at a bar called Ireland’s 32, on Geary Boulevard in San Francisco- Ted on guitar, me on vocals. Heroes was the song we couldn’t wait to do. It was when everyone in the bar would really watch us, feel us and listen to us. Even when "everyone" consisted of just 5 people.
Hearing that song in the context of 2016 and Bowie’s death is bringing me face to face with that young woman’s earnest expression at the microphone, taking the whole thing so very seriously. The woman who was trying so hard to figure out who she was, and what she might want to be in the world. It reminded me of an era when the biggest responsibility I had was making sure I could pay my rent and still have money left over for gallivanting. I feel a surge of affection for her, and the small world she inhabited. She has no idea what lies ahead. She has no idea how much this next break-up will hurt. She can’t fathom that her Gran will die suddenly and without warning. She can’t imagine how frightened she will be when she is told she could lose her baby and that she must lie down for 3 months. She has no clue how lucky she will get, because she will marry the greatest guy ever, and have three precious children.
All of this rushes into my mind as Bowie sings, “…and we kissed, as though nothing could fall....”
It's more than just David Bowie we mourn today. It’s also the people we used to be when we listened to his music. It’s the pin prick that explodes our belief that we have all the time in the world.
May David Bowie, and the sweet younger self we used to inhabit, rest in heavenly peace.