On Grieving Prince

My grief over Prince is surprising me. Not that I’m grieving, but the depth and breadth of it.

I’m listening to his music non-stop, reveling more in his lesser-known work than I’d have thought possible. I’m gobbling up anecdotes and stories as a lifeline to a man I never met, but now more than ever wish I had.

Rock stars carry a heavy load: the collective dreams, most of them unexpressed, of all of humanity. When one dies, especially one as genius, talented, and prolific as Prince, we begin to question not only our own mortality but but our impact and legacy. Are we living life to the fullest? Are we expressing our gifts? We see an example of someone who most certainly was and begin to question our life choices.

And then there’s just the pain of it. The abject, raw pain of losing such a talent. And our personal pain—the knowledge that whether we never got around to seeing him in concert or saw him a hundred times, the opportunity of just one more is lost forever.

And we hope he knew. How loved, how talented, how appreciated and needed he was and will continue to be. Because what all of us want in our deepest souls is to be seen. To be understood. And that’s why we project so much of ourselves onto musicians. Because they sing our pain and our dreams and our love. They hold it and express it in a way that few others can.

Life is this fragile, resilient, unknowable mystery. No one embodied that more than Prince, with his small frame and large presence. His need to be seen and yet hide.

Words fail me but it’s just as well. There’s nothing I could say that Prince didn’t say himself, and better. I don’t know if I believe in an afterlife, but Prince did. And if ever there were anyone who could will something into existence—someone who, if the rumors are true, would never accept “no” or “impossible” for an answer—it would be him. So I trust that right now he is in a world of never ending happiness where he can always see the sun, day or night.

Thank you, Prince, for giving your life to us so that we might know ourselves a little better, and for keeping so much of it for yourself, so that there was always more to give.