I wore all black today, as I have every December 8th for the last 28 years, my silent tribute to the anniversary of John Lennon’s death. He died at a time in my life where every little thing was poignant, 19 years old, sophomore in college, four-months pregnant and chock full of hormonal angst, so you could imagine the shock when something big happened, like hearing about this icon, this genius poet, this angry, potent music maker, peace lover, political artist, this man being ripped so violently from our lives!
I was sitting at a cheap fold-up card table (that was to be my dining room table for the next four years, it turns out), in a chilly one-room apartment, struggling over my Latin homework I took on a whim with my boyfriend–so romantic! So stupid!–and looking for distraction from the complicated, dead words in front of me, from the unending wobble of the table, from the ever-so-slight swell of my belly that occupied my mind’s every waking moment. I turned on the little portable radio that was sitting on the table, tuned to KUGS, where Hannah and I were DJ’s together for a short time, but there was something wrong. There was some sort of a scuffle going on, on-air, and then I figured out that they were saying John Lennon was dead. How could that be? Then, as the disjointed story came together, I sat numb. And my stomach seemed to harden a bit under my too-tight shirt and I looked down in fear, then wonder, as I saw and felt a ripple cross beneath my skin. I had felt my baby move for the first time! A tiny Loch Ness monster swimming across the surface of my belly! How could one experience such a mix of sheer joy and utter sadness and horror at what was playing out in New York at the same time? With tears, apparently, buckets and buckets of tears, happy, sad, scared, confused and thrilled.
Now, whenever I think of that awful moment of realization that Lennon had been killed, I think of that other moment where life reared up to meet death. And when I think of John now I’m not so sad; I think of him singing.
And where were you when John Lennon died?