David Bowie got me through Mardi Gras.
He did this, inadvertently, by up and passing away in early January this year. I found out on a Monday morning after the day it happened, groggy on the porch, waking up to a new day and a new week. I read it on Facebook. It devastated me. Hell, I’m STILL sad at his departure because his music was always (and is still) such an influence in my life that suddenly BAM, he was gone and I would never find out what he was going to do next.
So that was right at the start of Carnival season, and I had purses to glitter and wigs and fake eyelashes to continuously put on and parades to dance in and parties to go to and while that’s all very fun, it’s also very overwhelming and I was at the cusp there of having to really dive in and Get Going on all of that and just thinking about it wore me out.
And then Bowie died, and shattered a part of me, and my response to that was to just simply listen to Everything He Ever Wrote. And what THAT did was tap me in to that Fab Glam Thank you Ma’am mentality and suddenly all that glitter for purses and all those wigs and fake eyelashes and stuff encompassed a different THING, and that THING was Fab Glam wonderful Bowie and hey! Look at that! I’m in Fab Glam season here and gosh durnit, I was going to Make Him Proud.
I rocked Mardi Gras. There was glitter all over the craft/guest room. There was glitter all over the garage. There was glitter all over me, and, much to his dismay, all over J too. I wore those wigs and eyelashes and danced my ass off, and it was amazing, and I’m so grateful, after all the gifts Bowie ever gave to me, through the soundtracks of my entire life from age 10 and on, that he gave me one last present.
During a time when I was completely overwhelmed by the scope of it all, Bowie’s parting gift was to get me through Mardi Gras, 2016. And not just get through it, but to ROCK it. And to LOVE it. And for that, I continue to love him, and always will.
Fast forward a few months. 10:00 p.m. on Sunday, May 1.
You never want to get phone calls at 10:00 p.m. on a Sunday night, or any night for that matter. Nothing good ever comes from it, unless you’re just a night owl with other night owl friends – then, it’s just normal. We’re not night owls though, and while we have a handful of night owl friends, even that sparse population knows it would probably be inappropriate to call us at 10:00 p.m. on a Sunday night.
So that night, we got a call. At 10:00 p.m. From a very close friend in Colorado. I was half asleep already. I was thinking that maybe she was boogying out there and decided to call not thinking about the time difference. Like I said, I was half asleep – my mind wasn’t completely present.
J answers the phone. I could tell by his words that it wasn’t good.
I still couldn’t wake up all the way, even when he hung up and I dazedly murmured, “What’s going on?”
“KC’s dead,” he says.
“Oh god,” I say.
He’d gone to bed for a nap, and never woke up. He was only 5 years older than we are.
She was sorry she’d called so late. But she didn’t want us to find out on Facebook.
I couldn’t fight it though. Sleep took over until the next day. Another Monday morning. That’s when it all hit, of course, on another Monday morning, facing a new day and a new week.
Amidst the tears that morning was an instant need to figure out Logistics. So, on the way to work, we did.
By the end of that Monday, we had postponed our dog’s heartworm treatment for a week; we’d made arrangements with my folks to watch her; we’d alerted our bosses and got our Friday off; we’d purchased plane tickets.
And then suddenly, where before there was another normal kind of weekend ahead of us, that Friday we were on a plane flying to Colorado.
Colorado. We hadn’t been since the Fall of 2014. We were zooming out there for THE WAKE. The wake for KC, the staunch and boozy pirate who was my first Captain in the Rogues of CO. THE WAKE, where we were to be immersed in a Rogue house party the likes of which had not been seen in a very long time. With a good 100+ people that we had not seen in FOUR. YEARS.
It was sad. But it was exciting. And it was amazing to see all of these people. Together. At one party. All at once. Even the ones that didn’t get along anymore, they were all there. Together.
I actually had bruises on my chest, and under my chin, from all the hugs. So many hugs. And laughter, through tears.
If the two-day hangover was any indication, we sure as hell did KC Murphy, aka Captain Moon, very, very proud indeed.
We saw tribe. We touched Colorado. We even learned 100% for sure that, no matter how much we miss that tribe, we couldn’t live there again (“We can’t BREATHE!” “It’s so DRY!!!” “It’s not…right.”), which was a kind of closure for us. We embraced everyone and, for those closest to us, saw everyone JUST long enough to miss each other all over again.
But funnily? Standing amidst those amazing crazy people that we’d known for years but hadn’t seen in two to four? After the greetings and the how-have-you-beens and the it’s-so-good-to-see-you-despite-the-circumstances…
It was like we’d never left.
And that was what I needed, what I’d been needing for a while without realizing it: the knowledge that they’re still our tribe, that they’re as much a part of our lives now as they were then, and that we are for them, too.
I cracked a joke the day before we got on that plane: Leave it to KC, to drag my ass back to Colorado just to airdrop me into the middle of a huge Rogue party.
But really, though, at the wake, what I expressed to people truly was: I think KC’s parting gift to me was to bring me back here, to finally be with you all, once again.
KC – you’re loved, man.
Hold your family and friends and heroes and loved ones close, everyone. Because you just never know.
And always, ALWAYS be thankful for their Parting Gifts.