TRIGGER WARNING: This post deals with issues surrounding death.
It's taken over a week to write this post. Over a week to process the fact that the greatest creative influence in my life, David Bowie, has died.
reading, you might think it's crazy that someone I never met could have evoked
such an emotional response I shed tears on the morning I learned of his
death. That only now am I able to write this post. You might ask, why?
There is of
course the obvious answer. He's been a part of my life for 33 years. I first
discovered Bowie as an 11-year old girl, when I was banned from watching the
video for China Girl on Top of the Pops because there was nudity at the end. I hid around the corner and watched it anyway, mesmerized. Fast forward
three or four years and I discovered my older brother's cassette copy of
Heroes. I'd never heard anything like it. It was so different. Unique. Yet it felt like it had been written for me.
Over the next
few years I discovered and endlessly played everything I could get my hands on,
from cassettes to LPs to CDs, his early work cementing my fascination with
space and science fiction. My best friend at the time loved him equally, and we
saw him in concert for the first time in either '89 or '90. I can't remember
the exact year, but seeing Bowie live was everything I'd hoped it would be.
I never found
Bowie attractive in a sexual way. There was no girl mad about boy crush. It was
the music and the artistry I loved first and foremost, though I will admit he
did look hot around the time of Let's Dance.
My love for
Bowie never diminished over the years, and I was fortunate enough to attend his
Meltdown concert the day before my thirtieth birthday, in June 2002. What a
performance. The Low and Heathen albums played in their entirety. A few of his
greatest hits. Bowie not wanting to end the concert and the organisers telling
him he had to stop. I'll never forget that night.
taught me through his music and art was that it was okay to be different. To be
unique. To stand out. To believe in yourself and your passions, whatever they
may be. He pushed the boundaries of social convention, which gave others the
confidence to do the same. I admired the fact he'd beaten
his addictions and turned his life around, unlike many of his
contemporaries. So, my love for Bowie's music and artistry is the obvious
answer for my emotional response. But the truth is so much more.
When I heard
the news I was devastated. Not for myself, but for his family. At what they'd
gone through, from first diagnosis to those final moments. It brought back every
painful moment of my own personal experiences of losing a father-in-law and
father to cancer.
I felt all of
the pain Bowie's family had and will experience. I knew that everything in him
would have fought until the end to stay. The need to continue to be there for
his family, especially his young daughter. I'm sure he would have given
anything to stay. I understand that pain.
But there is still another
reason for the grief I feel, and that's a selfish one. It's to do with my own
mortality. When we are in our teens, twenties, and sometimes even our thirties,
we believe we'll live forever. Unless we're unfortunate enough to experience
some devastating losses at a young age, time stretches out endlessly before us.
It's only when we start to lose those closest to us that we start to truly
understand that our lives will not go on forever. That we will die.
David Bowie never fitted into the 'closet to' category in
my life. In truth, he was never truly David Bowie. He was David Jones. A
husband, a father and a friend. A man made of flesh and blood like any other.
As mortal as the rest of us. But by dying, he reminded me of my own fragile hold on
life. I'm convinced this is the answer to why so many of his fans say they
still cannot accept he has died. They've been forced to face their own
moment, my mind does not want to believe what is undeniably true - David Bowie was never
going to live forever and neither will I. But what a life he led. What a legacy
RIP, David Bowie.