Billy

Hello, friends- I hope you’re well. If you’re new to these letters, a warmest welcome. I’ve been encouraged by industry people to focus on a “strong social-media strategy”.  I figured a long rambly letter every month or so was exactly what they were referring to. If this doesn’t work out though I’ll be handwriting all of you a nice postcard or something, so make sure you’re checking your mail regularly. 

My intent has been to get a letter and a video out to you every month. It’s been a bit longer than that and I apologize, but my father passed away a few weeks ago. That sentence feels cold and unrealistic. He was Pop, not “my father” and he didn’t “pass away”, he died. Pop is dead. This is the phrase I say to myself a hundred times a day. Pop is dead, Pop is dead. Maybe if I say it enough times I will actually believe it, but at this moment I’m sitting on his couch in his studio and at my feet is the book he was reading, opened to the page where he left off, on his easel is the blank canvas that he was doing sketches for, his pants and belt hang over the chair in his bedroom. He was just here, he cannot be dead. 

Something has caved in deep underground and I am waiting, waiting for the earth to open up and swallow me. 

Sadly, many of you have walked in this barren country much farther and longer than I. I’m sorry. I love you. 

2 years ago, almost to the day Pop died, some of our dearest friends lost their Poppy, as they called him. His name was Billy and he was a unique, enigmatic man, a poet, philosopher, theologian, mathematician.  My family had the honor to sit with him and his family during the last weeks of hospice. Every Sunday for 8 weeks we would gather in the small living room, 10 or 15 people surrounding the bed of a man in the final stages of terminal cancer. We sang hymns- Just A Closer Walk With Thee, In the Garden, Amazing Grace- as he openly wept. We took communion, watching, then looking away as his diseased esophagus and stomach caused him to retch and gag on the bread and wine. At first, we talked- the bittersweet discourse of a man coming to terms with his own end, an elder speaking caution and direction, a father and friend chatting about memories. Toward the last days speech became too costly an effort, so we sat in silence- keeping vigil- waiting, waiting. 

I wrote this song as an expression of empathy and remembrance for my sweet friends. I think now, perhaps, that there are places within empathy that you cannot access until you have experienced something similar. At the time I wrote this, I had not. 

I’m so sorry, I love you so much. Dane

1 comment

  • Sarah L.

    Sarah L. Chicago, IL

    Not sure how I missed this post before... I felt my world cave in, too- the moment I heard he was gone. Your Dad was there for me & my husband when it seemed like there was no hope (and everything was just going from bad to worse)- and somehow, he made things seem more bearable and temporary. He was such a beautiful and amazing soul. I still cry thinking about him... wishing he was here to talk to... wishing he would call me about some off-beat project that he needed graphic designs for... or that he could've read the final version of my book (that he helped inspire)... or that I could've seen that gypsy girl he painted that he told me about the last time we talked. Everything just feels so incomplete. Like there was so much more to do- so many more projects to create... He had talked about your music, and I know he was proud of you and what you created. I discovered this website after he died- and I couldn't help listening to the song "Fragments" over and over again. Thank you for expressing everything you did in that song. So much of life consists of holding on to those 'fragments' of hope. I know it hurts more than any words can say to know that he's really gone- but just remember his legacy is living on in you- and everyone he touched with his incredible creative spirit.

    Not sure how I missed this post before... I felt my world cave in, too- the moment I heard he was gone. Your Dad was there for me & my husband when it seemed like there was no hope (and everything was just going from bad to worse)- and somehow, he made things seem more bearable and temporary. He was such a beautiful and amazing soul. I still cry thinking about him... wishing he was here to talk to... wishing he would call me about some off-beat project that he needed graphic designs for... or that he could've read the final version of my book (that he helped inspire)... or that I could've seen that gypsy girl he painted that he told me about the last time we talked. Everything just feels so incomplete. Like there was so much more to do- so many more projects to create...

    He had talked about your music, and I know he was proud of you and what you created. I discovered this website after he died- and I couldn't help listening to the song "Fragments" over and over again. Thank you for expressing everything you did in that song. So much of life consists of holding on to those 'fragments' of hope. I know it hurts more than any words can say to know that he's really gone- but just remember his legacy is living on in you- and everyone he touched with his incredible creative spirit.

Add comment