Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Sad December

mark in strawberry fields
Mark in Strawberry Fields, October 2005
For as long as I knew Mark, in December he would get really depressed about the upcoming anniversary of the death of John Lennon.  Mark loved John and never got over his death.  I realize now, as I cope with my own grief, that Mark was experiencing deep grief that never went away.

One of the first road trips I took with Mark was to New York.  We left work on the afternoon of December 7, 1999.  The drive in the dark felt longer than it was, the December sky was clear and you could see Christmas lights on rural homes from miles away.  In Cobbleskill county, a police officer actually came out onto the highway from behind a billboard to pull us over and give us a speeding ticket.  it was like something out of a bad movie.  When Mark asked to see the calibration of his radar gun, the officer moved his hip toward Mark (who was still sitting behind the wheel) to show us both the gun he had in his holster as he said, "no." We took the ticket and went on our way.

Eventually, after midnight, we arrived at the Tuckahoe Road Motor Inn in Yonkers.  We didn't know anything about it but the Holiday Inn we found in our CAA book was full and it was close by.  Making our way there from the Holiday Inn, we actually found ourselves, "lost in Yonkers" at one point.  We got a weird room which was painted bright pink and was a "family" room which meant it was gigantic and had 4 beds in it, plus 2 sofa beds.  The view from the bathroom was of a field of garbage dumpsters.   As long as it was clean and safe, we didn't care.

In the morning, we drove into Manhattan and spent several hours in Strawberry Fields, sipping coffee and remembering John with fellow fans.  We were interviewed by a British documentary film crew who seemed surprised that we were there "all the way from Canada" - perhaps not realizing that it was a 6 hour drive.  They were gathering film for a 20th Anniversary project which would air in 2000.  In the years since, we were never able to track down the footage.  Being in the park that morning was sad and uplifting at the same time.  While we all missed John terribly, our shared love for him and his music brought us together and we celebrated his life as a community.

Since Mark died, I have not yet been able to listen to John or the Beatles.  I've tried but can't do it.  This morning on my drive to work, I heard a clip from a broadcast of "As It Happens" from December 1980.  When it was over, they played "Imagine" and I started to cry.  I didn't turn the radio off, I made myself listen to it.  Maybe I'm getting closer to being able to hear John's voice again without my heart breaking over my own loss.  I hope so.