Fans are the driving force for what we do as musicians
Without the fans, what I do really doesn’t matter.
Even if we may not see a particular face for a while, the true fan is still there….in spirit, listening to the songs, talking about the band with friends, visiting the website, commenting on social media posts. To you, a true fan, thank you for being there, for reading this, for being my reason to do what I do.
June 21st, 2016. Today marks the 2 year anniversary of the day I lost my biggest fan. She worked as a waitress in a restaurant. She loved her job because of all the people she got to meet, everyone she got to take care of. She made connections with these people.
They were her friends, almost family to her. These people would come in and request specifically to be in her section and if she wasn’t there that day, a lot of them would leave and come back when she WAS working.
She was my biggest fan. Every time she would talk to someone, she somehow found a way to work it into the conversation that I was a musician and what I was up to, where I would be playing next. It was sometimes a little weird because it would be totally irrelevant to the conversation but she didn’t care. She was proud and it made me happy to see her glow when she would talk about it.
I remember one time, eating at the restaurant and sitting in her section. I ordered a steak with mashed potatoes and a baked potato. She said “that’s a lot of starch” and I said “yeah, I know….I’m in the mood”. She smiled and left to put in my order. When she walked away, the guy at the table next to me turned around and said “kind of like having your mom here huh?” I said “well, she IS my mom”.
It’s hard not having her here. Not being able to call. Can’t stop by. No call on my birthday. She’s not there decked out in a Santa hat with snowman earrings for Christmas. It’s all gone.
I watched her get sicker day by day and couldn’t do anything about it. That is the most helpless I have ever felt. It’s bittersweet really, because I didn’t want to lose her but I’m glad she’s not suffering anymore.
The day she died, she was weak and in bed at home with dad. I actually had two shows scheduled. Now, I know some of you won’t get this but there was no way I could cancel the shows. As I said, my mother was my biggest fan. She loved the fact that I was who I was. She did however hate to even think of me canceling a show because I was doing something for her.
I mentioned canceling shows before to do something for her and she would get extremely upset. If I even brought up canceling a show, she would say “If you cancel the show, I’m not (doing whatever it was I was supposed to help with). I knew she didn’t have long, and the last thing I wanted was to make her upset during what would turn out to be her last day on earth.
I actually thought we had at least another couple of days left but it didn’t turn out that way. I had been there every day helping take care of her. We talked every day but in that last day or two it was like she was disconnected, like she was already mostly gone. I saw her that morning. I left to go pre-set the show I was supposed to play that night then I went to perform the first show of the day, which started early afternoon.
I had been gone from the house for about 2-3 hours. As soon as I was about to take the stage for the first show, I got the message that she was gone.
That was one of the toughest performances I have ever done. I put on my game face, sang the songs, and cracked some jokes. I pulled it off. No one knew what had happened until after the show. Once I left the stage, all I could do was just sit there and cry. I had tried to prepare myself for this moment. I had actually been preparing for some time.
I have a knack for visualizing situations and placing myself in that emotional state to try and judge what my reaction and the outcome may be. I believe doing that actually helped get me through this more quickly than if I hadn’t prepared. Nothing gets you totally ready to lose a parent but I do believe it helped soften the blow at that moment enough for me to function that day.
I knew this was coming for some time, of course I just didn’t know exactly when. I did know however, that I wanted to write a song. I also knew that there would be no way I would be in any state to write is once she was gone. I wanted to perform the song at her funeral but I didn’t have the strength that day. The one time I couldn’t perform. I couldn’t sing one last song for my biggest fan.
I wrote the song about a year before she died. I put myself in an emotional state that I imagined I would be in (which I have to admit was pretty damn close, I had the intensity off by a bit, but still pretty close) and just started writing. As I said, I planned on performing it for her funeral but right after I finished writing the song, we lost my uncle, David. The family asked me to sing at his funeral.
I recorded a raw version of the song. Listen to the acoustic track below.
I had written this song for mom, but it seemed an appropriate fit for the situation, and reflected what everyone was feeling about this loss as well, so I sang it at my uncle’s funereal. Mom was there and she heard it for the first time. That was actually the first time I had ever performed that song. She loved it, but she never knew it was written for her. I didn’t want her to know I saw what was coming.
People tend to lose hope when they can see the cards stacked against them. They feel beaten…..they give up. I didn’t want my mother to ever stop fighting so I never told her that was her song.
It’s not easy. Nothing anyone can say or do makes it any easier. If they haven’t lost a parent, they really can’t relate. I had several people say things like “I know what you’re going through, I lost my (brother, cousin, uncle, best friend, etc. etc.). Yes, those are significant losses, but nothing in comparison to losing a parent, nothing compared to my dad losing his partner and best friend of almost 50 years. It always annoyed me (I know they meant well, but it’s just not the same) when people would make that comparison.
I miss her every day. It’s hard watching my dad deal with the loss. He’s gotten better over time but you know it’s there. You can see it in his face, especially when the 21st rolls around. I’m pretty good at dealing with things like this, always have been. I’m a pretty private guy so I usually keep a lot of things to myself but I thought this was worth sharing. Maybe you’ve gone through this, maybe you’re about to. Whether or not you have already, the fact is, you WILL experience this…..the loss of a parent.
Now, I’m not one for the whole “she’s in a better place”, “she’s with God now”, “It was her time”, “God needed her in heaven” sentiment. I’m not fishing for sympathy and feel goods. I decided to share this because today does mark two years of my mom being gone, and I wanted to share the song I wrote for her. I couldn’t sing it on her last day above ground, but I can sing it until I no longer have a voice.
Maybe this will help someone get through a tough time. Maybe it will bring back memories of someone lost. For me, it reminds me of my biggest fan, the one who believed in me from the beginning and never stood in my way when I said “you know what, I want to be a professional musician”.