Hollie Grimaldi Flores: Thinking of the past while looking to the future
It’s hard for me to believe it has already been more than a year since that fateful day last November when everything changed. I got up bright and early that Tuesday morning full of hope and expectation. I did not know that by the end of the day, things would be different.
I had no idea how devastated I would be when I heard the news or how long it would take for me to recover, and I know I am not alone.
I am, of course, talking about the passing of international music legend Leonard Cohen. The Canadian was not only a singer and a songwriter but also a musician, poet, novelist, and painter.
He is probably best known for the popular song, “Hallelujah” which has been performed by countless artists from Bob Dylan to Bon Jovi; Celine Dion to K.D. Lang. Cohen lived a full life.
But his passing even at age 82 in early November 2016 shocked many and was another blow amid a quickly changing landscape that seemed to some, almost unbearable. Though inevitable, the timing was just plain bad.
The passing of legends
Death, that constant none of us is going to escape, took others I admired over the next 12 months. Music icons like Fats Domino and Glen Campbell as well as rockers that were part of the soundtrack of my coming of age — Gregg Allman, J. Geils, and Tom Petty.
With each passing month, more and more names of celebrity legends were added to the list. We grieved the loss of the talented actors, writers, and performers but for the most part couldn’t say they died too young — Mary Tyler Moore, Don Rickles, Hugh Hefner, Monte Hall — all lived long lives.
My husband would argue 61 was much too young (in the case of actor Bill Paxton), but I remember when 60 was old. Don’t you? Not so much now that we are creeping up or surpassing it, but still a lot of life has been lived in 60 plus years.
It is the passing of the too, too young that is most difficult to accept. In the world of celebrity there is the 27 club — a membership to be avoided for certain, so named because of the high mortality rate of famous 27-year old’s.
The club includes the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Amy Winehouse and Curt Cobain.
I think of their parents. To quote Shakespeare, “Oh untimely death.”
My 20s were an exciting time. I was in my early 20s when I made the fateful decision to pack up everything I owned and move to Northern California. I was in my 20s the first time I got married — 27 to be exact (the irony).
I am certain my mother could see the mistakes I was making and there wasn’t a thing she could have said or done that would have made me change one of them.
As an adult, the decisions were mine to make. The mistakes mine to endure and the lessons mine to learn.
My husband and I currently have six offspring in their 20s. We wonder what we can do to not only spare them the pain of the decade but also to insure their survival. And the answer is: precious little.
They are, for the most part, on career paths, exploring interests, and testing relationships. There are successes and there are failures but nothing, to date, has been life threatening.
The hope is that they understand that no matter what they are going through — the highest of highs or the lowest of lows — that they understand “this too, shall pass.” And that they continue to move forward.
Our community was rocked a little over decade ago when one young man in his 20s could not see the future. He took his own life at the tender age of 25. His parents turned their grief into a cause.
They focused their energy on raising money, education and awareness around depression in the hope that they might spare others the unbearable heartbreak that lays just below the surface of their day to day.
Each joyous moment breached just a bit by the loss. That is a bold assumption on my part, one made simply by imagining going through the same thing. I believe their efforts have saved lives. Many lives. And it has enriched many more.
We now begin each Thanksgiving morning surrounded by loved ones and community members as we participate in our beloved Turkey Trot.
We are reminded to embrace this precious gift called life. We hold on a little tighter. Hug a little longer and more often. This, in memory of a young man who had lost hope.
Since Cohen’s death last November, things have been changing rapidly. The world seems chaotic and unsafe. Our leadership is, at best, unpredictable.
But people are stepping up, becoming involved and making changes where they can and in substantial numbers. Yes, there is hope. And to that I say, “Hallelujah!”
For more information and to sign up for this year’s Turkey Trot go to https://meb2turkeytrot.com.
Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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