38 years ago today, a deranged man walked up to perhaps the most talented singer/songwriter there ever was….and blew him away in the doorway of his NY City apartment building.
Time stopped for me that day. It was the first death that I experienced of a loved one. The first time I was personally affected by the evil violence of this world. I remember that morning like it was yesterday. The strangest thing was that I had just awakened from a nightmare that Paul McCartney had been shot. How bizarre is that? My subconscious was close…..but not entirely.
I was crying hysterically. There was NO WAY I was getting on the school bus. No Way. If you believe that you didn’t know my Mother. I got on that school bus.
Driving to school as all of the other kids were laughing and talking like nothing else was different-like the most horrible thing ever had not just happened that morning. Like things were normal- when CLEARLY they weren’t. John Lennon’s music had helped me through the devastating loneliness of the seventh and eighth grade. He had helped me through the loneliness of my parent’s marital problems and my Dad’s drinking. With the door to my bedroom closed and my journals and the Beatles- I could get through anything. He turned my room into a sanctuary. He believed in peace- that it was actually possible. He was brilliant and witty and wise…..clearly the BEST Beatle. And the best songwriter as a solo act (Imagine, Jealous Guy, Give Peace a Chance, Instant Karma…..??- need I go on????) How could I possibly navigate the rest of High School without him?
I shuffled through the school day in the fog of shock- until I got to Western Civ. with Mr. Stockbridge- my favorite class and my favorite teacher. He understood. We spent his class talking about John Lennon, and history and the Beatles and grief and violence. There were other friends in that class who had loved John almost as much as I did. There was community. I was not alone in my sorrow.
I will never forget that day.
And I will never forget Mr. Stockbridge.