“Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there,
I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight
On the ripened grain.
I am the gentle Autumn’s rain.
When you awaken in the morning hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry.
I am not there.
I did not die.
My Spirit is still alive…”
– Mary Elizabeth Frye
Dumbfounded and shocked by the news that this man, who I thought was larger than life, actually left us for the after world, I spent most of the day yesterday reflecting on the role someone who I’d never met had played in my life. How could a stranger, albeit a superstar, have woven the threads of his being so intimately into my life? So much so that his story is intertwined with my story.
Intertwined in ways that are too personal to share here, but suffice it to say that my definition of intimacy, sexuality and romance are all wrapped up in a purple bow.
I didn’t listen to any of his older music yesterday. I didn’t listen to much of his music at all. I dare not. Lest the very memories that I was reminiscing about would come to life and unravel at the seams of my soul and I would lose my shit. The only song I did listen to about a hundred times was from his last album, Fallinlove2nite. Somehow, it was safe, soothing, healing – it didn’t take me back through the soundtrack of my life.
Let’s not lose our shit today Rajni. Celebrate his life, his genius, his light. Lose your shit another day. Not today.
I didn’t read any of the gazillion articles that came out in droves all day yesterday either. I didn’t want someone else’s thoughts to get in my eyes. I wanted my feelings and memories to be the only ones that informed my writing. Like the stereotypical image of a reclusive writer, I spent the day in my head putting my thoughts together for my tribute, just me and my Prince. When I finally came up for air close to midnight, I saw the expanse of a world-wide outpouring of reverence for someone who people were referring to as a demigod.
The most overwhelming reoccurring feeling I had yesterday was that I wanted to press pause, I wanted to stop doing what I’ve been doing, I wanted to sell all my material possessions, and run free, unencumbered and effervescent to a place where I could Fall In Love Tonight. Not with a person, but with an idea, an ideal, a feeling of invincibility – the way I felt when I was young – alive, free, ready to conquer the world, with a belief that I could do anything, with an unquenchable thirst for life. The way we all felt when we were burgeoning into the adults we eventually became.
The way we still feel when we listen to Prince.
As we get older, sometimes we get caught up in the nostalgia of youth as we watch the next generation flourish, wishing we could join in on all of the vibrance and excitement of youth again. And then I thought, I don’t have to relive my youth to do that, that’s my whole message; we have the power to create the life we want to live right now. That’s what I’m doing. That’s what Prince’s lyrics were about. That’s who he was – a man who lived. Well.
Yesterday, the 50-somethings of the world, give or take a decade, wore a badge of honor as members of an exclusive club who said with blistering pride that this genius was the product of their generation, that they grew up with his music, that it defined who they are, so suck it millennials! Ok, maybe not the last part, but what a coming together in an overwhelming sense of camaraderie and pride to have witnessed the journey of this star in the making. And Baby He’s A Star!
I have just started to play my old school Prince playlist this morning with most of his songs from back in the day, and I’m astounded at how deep the purple waters run. I shouldn’t be surprised, I know it consciously, and the fact that so many of my friends and family have reached out to share their memories of my obsession with Prince with me, or to thank me because that obsession was their introduction to Prince, and their love of his music is a testament to how crazy I was about him.
I’m listening to the playlist on the stereo, it’s loud, and I’m afraid that Ippa, my cat is crouched under a chair in the other room because the music is blasting in her ears. It’s not unreasonably loud, but I check on her. She’s fine, so I keep listening. Then, When Doves Cry starts playing. That iconic guitar solo that I’ve air played every time I’ve ever heard this song glides through the speakers like a silk scarf floating on a cloud, as sleek and sexy as Prince himself. Pause. This one, this one I need to hear at a volume that doesn’t exist. It’s not a song. It’s a meditation. It’s a union with the Divine. I get out the noise cancelling Bose headset, and set the volume to maximum.
This. Is. My. Song.
Maybe it’s the way the drum hits at the exact right beat.
Maybe it’s the undertone of Prince moaning in the background.
Maybe it’s the guttural vocals.
Maybe it’s the screaming.
Maybe it’s the mind blowing synthesizer solo at the end.
Maybe it’s the doves crying.
It. Stirs. My. Soul.
I would go to sleep with the radio on so that if When Doves Cry played in the middle of the night I could hear it. And when it did, I would get out of bed, dance for the whole song and then go back to sleep.
And now Let’s Go Crazy. If feels like yesterday when I ran to the dance floor as soon as that first beat of the organ began to play. And then I stood there, alone in the middle of the dance floor, mouthing the lyrics, Dearly Beloved We Are Gathered Here Today To Get Through This Thing Called Life, until the beat picks up…You know the one, and then my head starts bopping and my body starts to move to the beat, until finally, my body takes over and goes into full-on muscle memory mode and the exact moves my 16 year-old body had are now gyrating around my living room floor. My fingers automatically flutter on either side of my head like they used to in a gesture of revelation because…In this life, You’re on your own.
Until. Until you get to The After World – A world of never ending happiness, where you can always see the sun, day or night.
I’m so glad you are in a world of never ending happiness Prince, like the one in the poem above by Mary Elizabeth Frye. One of my sisters shared it in honor of Prince today. When I saw the poem, I thought it was the most fitting tribute I’d seen. Although we get caught up in the emotion and the loss on a physical level, and I’m at the front of that line in this case, the truth is that the spirit never dies. What is so amazing is the legacy that Prince left us will not only live on, but it will play on.
“There has never been a time when you and I have not existed, nor will there be a time when we will cease to exist.”
– Lord Krishna, Bhagavad Gita
My sister called to say she thought of me when she heard the news yesterday, and what she said next not only expresses my thoughts and feelings on death and the nature of the eternal soul, but it is pure genius.
“I wrote ‘rest in peace’ because I felt like that’s what I was supposed to say, but I didn’t feel comfortable saying that. I don’t know why we tell souls to rest in peace. They should soar. I wanted to say ‘Let Your Spirit Soar Prince’, don’t rest in peace, fly, fly high and soar to amazing heights.”
Thank you sister, I think you just gave the world a better way to honor a soul that has departed from this physical plane.
So, on behalf of my sister, myself and probably a whole bunch of others, My Dearly Beloved Prince, I bid you adieu until our souls meet again. In the meantime, Shine With The Stars, Fly With The Eagles, Run With The Wind, Let Your Spirit Continue To Soar. We Will Feel Your Energy Vibrating Just Like We Always Have!
Mop it up. That’s all I’ve got. I left it all out there on the dance floor.
Thank you, thank you, thank you!