SHOCK: What the fuck did he just say?
DENIAL: No, that can’t be right.
ANGER: Fucking ‘legitimate’?!
BARGAINING: Maybe he’s high?
GUILT: It’s my own fault for checking Twitter.
DEPRESSION: FML, people are defending him.
ACCEPTANCE: Whatever. On to the next sexist asshole.
Like everyone I know, I’ve been thinking a lot about Levon Helm. I always hoped I would get to meet him one day and geek out to him about what a fan I was of his singing and playing. Now, that’ll have to wait.
So much has been said about him since his death this week — eloquent and heartfelt tributes from folks from all walks of life, high and low, fancy and plain — a spontaneous and beautiful testament to what he meant to us as a musician and a person.
But I was doing dishes just now and started thinking hard about his family — especially his wife and daughter — who had the strength and generosity to make his imminent demise public. They shared something so very personal and wrenching with the whole world — at a time when they must’ve felt pain akin to swallowing hammers.
They had so much to deal with. Their beloved was waving goodbye. Yet they included us — invisible strangers. And didn’t you feel honored to be told?
Didn’t it make you feel a little less helpless in the face of an undodge-able grievous bullet to be able to send love and positive energy and good will to Levon and his family? To be able to try to give a little something back to someone whose work and soul and just kick-ass natural humanity has given us so much?
Maybe our combined focused energies manufactured a kind of bellows — a fellowship — a bit of collective “lift” to be able to send him off flying — free from pain, free from fear. Maybe in some small way it was able to buoy his family who had to strip sheets off an empty bed — to cushion the fall. Man, I hope so.
For me, I think it was a perfect example of using the internet for good instead of evil, making the world smaller — and I think it was so brave of the family to be so open about it. We loved him too. How even more awful it would have been to have had to just find out suddenly that he had passed.
To the family of Levon Helm — thank you. Things must be so rough for y’all right now. It is so so hard to lose someone. And I know we’ve never met, but let us know if you need anything. We’re right here.