Saturday, February 06, 2016

Out With A Bang

It was time.

The shot rang out.

Then it was over.

No more pain. No more suffering. No more medical interference.

And so my treasured friend abruptly finished the final chapter in his life. 

Cherokee Foothills
Deja Voodoo

We had this discussion about 30 or so years ago. It was more of a lively "what if" conversation we were having. But it stuck to me. I've thought about it time and time again the last few days as I remember, rejoice and mourn the loss of my wonderful friend.

Three decades ago we sat in my old home in the glorious sun room talking about the death of another friend, when our conversation turned to suffering and "what if". We shared my home at the time. I had a turn of the century house that always had a project going on plus a lively music room that my friends and I kept busy.

My then housemate was a professional musician who enjoyed handyman work too. He came to live with me after having an upheaval in his life 280 miles away.

One Saturday night he quit the band, loaded up his equipment, drove to the apartment he shared with a combative girlfriend he no longer desired, packed up, left her an "It's over" note and drove 5 hours to my home. I had not seen him in months and he did not call, just showed up.

It was 5am when he arrived, so he slept in his truck in my driveway. I noticed him when I went out to get the Sunday paper. I could see his small pickup truck was loaded down with his worldly goods consisting of musical equipment, tool boxes and clothes.

I asked him inside for breakfast. I figured he had a pretty good tale to tell as to how he ended up sleeping in my driveway.

I was not disappointed.

He was laughing and joking about his sudden lifestyle changes. My previous housemate had married and moved out. Ironically, now that I think about it, she married a prominent jazz musician.

I invited him to move in and stay awhile. There were plenty of projects to do around the house. Plenty of space in the music room for all his gear and a big basement for tools and projects.

We fell into a comfortably fun erratic routine. He quickly found work performing on stage again. Life was good. He worked on my old house and patched up an old family cabin an hour's drive away.

One day, we talked about "what if". We sat in the sun room surrounded by windows and dozens of potted plants. We had a fabulous view overlooking the backyard garden. Beneath the windows were bookshelves overflowing with books on just about any subject imaginable.

He told me then if it came down to it and his life wasn't worth living due to medical nightmares, he would take matters into his own hands. He was serious.  It was all just a long wild conversation but it always stuck with me over the years.

How ironic.

At the time, we were both young and in great health living active busy lives. Well more or less. He was in great shape. I was having a glorious remission. I had gone through multiple surgeries and chemo but I didn't dwell on it and few even knew what I had gone through as I fought to maintain a busy happy life. Most of my surgeries and treatments were on Thursday or Friday so it would just appear I was having a long weekend from work.  Indeed it was top secret at work, because we didn't want any of our clients to be concerned that I couldn't provide my services, so we hid the fact letting clients think I lived in the luxury of long leisurely weekends. I often worked 12-15 hour days to keep on top of everything between surgeries and treatments so I scarcely think anyone noticed anything amiss. Those were the days of keep a stiff upper lip and march onward.

At some point my jewel of a housemate fell in love and moved out to be with his new girlfriend but we stayed in touch and found reasons to run into each other often.

At the end of 1987, I decided to sell my home and businesses to relocate to the Caribbean in pursuit of a different career. Somewhere around the mid 90's I returned for a summer at the old family cabin that was falling apart. I called my former housemate and he came up several times over the summer to help me cobble the place back together. We had a blast catching up on old times and laughing as we took breaks, rocking away in these massive wooden rockers that adorned the screened porch.

At the end of 2009 I relocated back to America. I called him again and he drove over to visit me at this motorhome I had just purchased.

In 2015 I visited the remnants of the old cabin.
At the time I was nearby laying to rest the ashes of someone else.

In the summer of 2014, I found out he and other friends of mine were playing in a band 60 miles away from where I was camped at the time. Another musician was visiting me. We decided on a whim to drive the motorhome over to go hear them play. Little did I know it would be the last time.

Recently I woke up checking my email, shocked to learn my friend had succumbed to horrific medical maladies.


And he was gone.

Rest in peace my darling. I shall never ever forget your laughter, your love, your music, your creative insight. You are a treasured jewel living forever in precious memories. 



  1. A good tale with a sad but purposeful ending. There is nothing better than being in control of your own destiny.

  2. What wonderful memories you both made for you to carry in your heart forever. But I am sorry for your loss

  3. My plan, exactly. Might find a deserted desert island.


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