Leonard Cohen died last week. He had reached a great age and, as the media reports it, he died a peaceful man. Cohen had released an album just last month, likely I will buy it – Kevin would have. There are some musical artists that are significant in my life because they were so influential on my husband while he lived. The more notable ones were: Frank Zappa, Leonard Cohen, Philip Glass and Bob Dylan. There were many more, but certainly these four were right up there.
I can’t and won’t even try to express what Kevin felt about these artists because, quite simply, I don’t have the musical knowledge or education to accurately explain it. Kevin got music, and beyond that, he loved art and artistic expression; he was a creative soul that understood the nuances, the passion, the frustration and the genius of composition (in multiple art forms). I was just along for the ride.
It was Leonard Cohen’s Book of Longing that proved inspirational for a whole series of Kevin’s paintings. In his usual fashion, Kevin had taken Cohen’s poem, My Mother Is Not Dead, and spun it in his own way. The particular lines from that poem are:
“Don’t worry about any of your relatives.
Do you see the insects?
One of them was once your dog.
But do not try to pat the ant.
It will be destroyed by your awkward affection.”
This segment from the poem became the basis of Kevin’s obsession with the ant on the hotdog. He replicated the image over and over, in oils and acrylics, his artistic rendering of reincarnation.
So Leonard Cohen dies and it brings a whole fresh wave of grief for me, for Kevin’s death. Selfish isn’t it? Another family is suffering and all I can think about is me. How life shortchanged Kevin, how brutal and cruel it was to him in the end, and what that meant for me. Kevin should have had another 20 years to laugh, love and live. I should have had that with him. Our kids should have had that. But they don’t, I don’t. And sometimes the ache in my chest rolls around my heart until it feels like it’s being squeezed tighter and tighter, and there’s not a darn thing that I can do. It’s my pain to manage, and sometimes not so well.