|death and music
||[Dec. 9th, 2010 | 06:46 pm]
My first experience with death, that is to say, the death of a loved one that I can remember, was when I was thirteen years old. My cat Mirassou was seventeen years old, frail, and ill. My mother said she would die soon and it would be kinder to put her out of her misery by having her put to sleep the next day. I stayed up the whole night with her. She could barely move, even to eat or use her litter box. The next morning when I attempted to bathe her (because she had no energy, she ended up urinating on herself) she didn't put up a fight, so I knew it was time.|
I wrapped her in a towel and held her on my lap all the way to the animal hospital at Bascom and Hamilton. A few minutes later, Doctor Owen injected her with pentobarbital and she died in my arms. The doctor assured me that she was in no pain and my mother assured me her body would be sent to the pet cemetery in Hawaii. I wasn't sure if I believed her.
I was completely torn up over the loss of Mirassou. My mom saw this and tried to help. She bought me an acoustic guitar that same day so I could write songs about the loss of my cat. Since Mirassou died, I have had three more cats and written songs about each of them with that same guitar. They each like to sit with me on my bed while I play gentle calming rhythms and think about the ones I love.
My next experience with death was this past summer, when I was seventeen years old myself. My father's cousin died of lung cancer, so my father and stepmother drove down to LA for the funeral.
Mitchell was my dad's uncle's son. He was only 51 years old when he died. He attended Ithaca College in New York and then moved to Los Angeles where he opened a clothing shop on the Venice Beach boardwalk. He loved to eat and recommend food to his friends, he loved to play music, and most of all, he loved his wife and son. He also loved to smoke, which lead to many hospital visits and eventually he was diagnosed with lung cancer.
The service was unconventional, and lovely. Instead of a sad and solemn service, many of Mitchell's friends and family members came up and talked about the good times they had with him while he was alive, and the Irish folk band that he played with while he was alive played fun songs in between. At the end of the service, they played a rough recording of a song that Mitchell wrote when he first found out that he would die, which I assume was recorded in the hospital. On the drive home, staring silently out the backseat window somewhere between San Luis Obispo and Gilroy, I realized that I want to be a music teacher.
The link in my life between music and death is almost haunting. But coping with death helps me realize who I am, and music helps me cope with death and it helps me be the person I am.