There Are No New Old Friends – Part 7
The Inevitable Epilogue
And now he’s dead. It came suddenly – a quick deterioration over weeks rather than months. And I’m told the final short while was as calm as it could possibly be.
So now I know we won’t have one more meeting, not at his behest nor mine.
At least we talked on the ‘phone one last time, on Christmas Eve.
It was a time for openness. He told me the brutal truth about his latest prognosis, about the new symptoms. And at least I held it together until we’d finished talking. My tears wouldn’t have helped him.
We talked about life as it had turned out for us. We didn’t dwell on the future. We didn’t need to dwell on the past. We both knew what we knew.
We talked about music, as we always have, but of course he’d stopped looking for anything new. Jason Isbell’s ‘Live from the Ryman’ had still impressed him though.
I could list any number of songs that will readily make me think of him, but ‘Racing in the Street’ perhaps gives me the strongest visual accompaniment: that vintage black and white shot of ‘Darkness …’ era Springsteen which used to be on the whitewashed wall in his study.
And, too, I’ll always remember him with every Tom Waits track I play. He introduced me to Emmylou Harris, I introduced him to Waits. And now it’s goodbye to my old Rain Dog friend.
Since that last chat he had some small respite but the end came too quickly. Rushed family farewells. It fell on his wife to tell friends like me what was unfolding. At least I was able to say a final goodbye through her, that she read out to him because by then he was too weak. And it fell on his wife to tell me when his life finally ended.
Tears? Of course there were tears when I heard he’d died. Of course there are tears as I’m writing right now. But they are tears of loss and nothing more. And that’s OK.