Sunday, December 8, 2013

Yes is the answer. Thank you, John.

I was 13.

I was eating breakfast and, as I was midway lifting cornflakes to my mouth, my mother said, "Laura, the news is saying a man shot and killed John Lennon last night." I remember being frozen, the milk dripping back into the bowl. I lowered the spoon and smiled. "You're kidding, right?" She shook her head and I could tell by her expression she was worried about me.

I didn't know what to feel. I was an infant when Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy were killed. I adored The Beatles with unbridled passion, but it was the Lennon of The Beatles I loved. The Lennon who had just died was someone distant. Someone old - 40, can you imagine? I loved his new album, the vinyl had been played so often it already had scratches. I didn't know how to react.

I remember riding the trolley to school and telling one of my school mates. There was an awful thrill, being the bearer of this news, but as soon as I said it I felt my throat begin to constrict. I felt something wretched begin to well up inside of me.

In class one of my teachers was terribly sad. She looked at us and said, "I heard last night. I felt pretty much the way I imagine Laura feels right now." Everyone knew I loved The Beatles. And everyone turned to look at me. I ran to the bathroom and sobbed, great dry heaves until finally the tears began to come.

I didn't know it then, but I was crying for a closed door, for the hope and possibility Lennon talked about in Double Fantasy that had been destroyed. I didn't know it then, but I was crying for the end of something I had been too young to experience. I didn't know it then but I was crying because of a new kind of knowledge I never wanted to have.

With Lennon's death I joined that terrible club of mourners, grieving for our heroes, the people we have never met but shape us.

I went home and listened to Imagine and War is Over and Mother and and Watching the Wheels and Mind Games over and over again, the volume huge against the walls and windows. I could hear my mother telling my father to leave me alone.

When I was done crying I did the only thing I could. I picked up a pen and started to write. I haven't stopped.

(c)2013 Laura S. Packer Creative Commons License

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