On April 21, 2016, Prince Rogers Nelson died and my life changed forever. This statement might seem odd because on the outside my life appears the same. Same husband. Same kids. Same job. Same book club. Same friends. Same clothes. Same hair style and on and on. But on the inside, everything has changed. Loneliness and hopelessness dominate my days. Yes, I am aware these words appear melodramatic. But when grief over the loss of a powerful influence turns into depression, hopelessness and loneliness is all that is left.
Around day 90 following Prince’s death when it appeared I wasn’t getting any better and just further behind in my life (didn’t do a timecard because I was too depressed to fill it out; water turned off because I was too depressed to pay the bill; disappointed children because I was too depressed to go to their school events; schedules not done at work because I was too depressed to do them), a friend told me to get some perspective. She pointed out all the things in my life that I endured. If I survived my child having brain surgery and becoming permanently disabled then certainly I could survive the death of a pop star, she didn’t know that while my child was under going a twelve-hour brain surgery, I was listening to Prince’s Emancipation and perusing Prince’s interview in the July 2010 issue of Ebony as a calming mechanism to keep panic away. The real work started after the surgery, and I needed to be armed with Prince’s message of positivity.
The list continued. If I survived a toxic and abusive work environment that made me physically sick, I could certainly endure the death of a pop star. That was the year that listening to Art Official Age on my 30 minute commute to and from work was the only time in my work day that I didn’t live in fear. I even wrote at the end of 2014, “In 2015, I wish that everyone can find something that brings them as much happiness, comfort and inspiration as Prince’s Art Official Age brought me in 2014. I am seriously contemplating sending a thank you note to Paisley Park.”
And one more to really drive the point home. If I endured a loss of a business and a home then certainly I could endure the death of a pop star. She didn’t know it was then that I discovered Prince.org and surrounded myself with support and friendship of people like me. With so much loss in my life, keeping up with Prince’s latest projects kept me inspired and focused on the future. The Prince Universe never stopped moving, so I could never stop moving. He constantly strived for the best in himself and that inspired me to strive for the best. He defined and redefined himself, so I defined and redefined myself. Prince was not my middle-school crush that went through middle age; he was a role-model and an inspiration that influenced me from childhood through motherhood.
From the age of nine through the age of 42, the Purple One’s influence never left me. I was there from the first moment I heard “Delirious” at a bakery as a third grader until the moment that I was listening to Hit-N-Run Phase Two on my way to work the morning of April 21st. He was always in my life, and I never left for a second. I was there through the glory days of Purple Rain through the assless pants, the name change to a Symbol, Slave written on his cheek, the break-up with Warner Bros., the numerous websites to distribute his works directly, the two marriages, the loss of his child, the one-off record deals, the returning to his birth name, the distribution of CDs with concert tickets and in non-American newspapers, the many beautiful twenty-something girlfriends, the wacky interviews, the award show appearances, the episode of New Girl, the battle with YouTube, the suing of his fans, the deal with Tidal, and the announcement of his memoir. I didn’t miss a minute.
And likewise, he was with me through bad skin, bad hair, boyfriend break-ups, fights with friends, feeling like I didn’t have any friends, college awkwardness, falling in love with my husband, when my now husband proposed to me with “The Most Beautiful Girl” in the background, most likely the conception of all my four children, and many late nights of doing homework for my two Master degrees. And of course, my car wrecks in 1993 (singing along to the self-title Prince album and drove into a ditch), 1998 (The Gold Experience in the background and I didn’t see that bright turquoise SUV in parking lot of K-Mart) and in 2014 (jamming to Art Official Age when a hipster in a Jeep drove into my moving minivan). Prince was the very literal soundtrack to my life. No matter the day or event, there was a Prince song somewhere in the background.
The tremendous legacy of his music will remain long past my demise, and there is always comfort to be found in the music. But the Prince antics are gone forever. No more announcements saying there will be an announcement. No more wearing a guitar to an awards ceremony and not playing that said guitar. No more calling into morning television shows just because he was friends with the co-host and could. There was never a dull moment in the Purple Universe, and we were all the better for it.
A new concert tour, a new album, new clothes, new girlfriends, new causes…the new was everything to him. He didn’t dwell in the past. He always lived in the present with one eye and a few limbs leaning into the future. I have been having trouble contemplating a future where I will never see him in concert again; a future where all new Prince albums will be old Prince music from his famed vault; a future without seeing him in clothes that I want to borrow; a future without his latest, greatest model for distribution. A future without Prince is a future that is hard to imagine.
But, there is no time for imagining. There is work to be done. His philanthropy efforts must continue and my depression must be defeated. His legacy must live on and I must live on. (I might need this reminder from time to time.)