By GoLittleBigGirl with permission
I’ve never started a blog whilst crying before. And this is some of the strangest crying I’ve ever done.
It’s crying mixed with laughter bundled up in bewilderment. It’s sadness and gratitude and admiration and a little bit of shame.
Someone I loved but never knew has died. A man who I described as ‘my guy’, who was never really my guy, will never be my guy… yet will always be my guy.
On Saturday I woke up to the news that Taylor Hawkins, Foo Fighters’ hyper-powered streak of grinning, infectious energy behind the drums; the friendliest, happiest face of one of the biggest bands in the world, had died suddenly on tour in Colombia.
I loved him. And I’m so, so sad that he’s died. I feel like I’ve lost a friend or a relative.
But I also feel embarrassed, confused and a bit guilty. I feel like I am trespassing in other people’s grief. He is not mine to mourn. I didn’t know him. I never met him, although I was once in the same (verrrrry big) room as him at a Foo Fighters concert. Also, I am a fully grown adult for goodness’ sake, I am 45 yet I feel like a love-sick 14-year-old, which embarrasses me. But I know there will be thousands if not millions of other people who are feeling loss like me.
Grief is a funny old game. When it hits you, you don’t know the rules. In fact, it doesn’t ever seem to hit you in the same way twice, so maybe there are no rules. Maybe that’s because every person you lose is unique and your relationship with them/to them is unique so your grief will always be unique. The grieving of someone you’ve never met is not the same as grieving the death of a close loved one, the death of a beloved pet or of someone you had a difficult relationship with. But it feels like there are rules. And I feel as though I may be breaking them.
Taylor Hawkins was an extraordinarily talented drummer who in more recent years, had not only made an impact on me but also inspired my son, Ossian, whose veins are full of music and who is himself a passionate drummer. But it was [uncomfortable first-name-use] Taylor’s enthusiasm and his clear LOVE for what he was doing which endeared him to me. To me, he was lovable because he was full of life and mischief and joy because he was happy doing what he loved – playing music. What a wonderful thing. And all the more shocking that someone so very ALIVE is suddenly not.
I could see the shock in Ossian’s face when I told him. I could also see his uncertainty over how he was supposed to react, how he was supposed to feel about it. He is 12. About as awkward an age as there is to feel and process emotion. He stared right into my teary eyes and the first thing he said was: “Are you sad?” and I said “Yes, are you sad?” and he nodded and walked away.
As I write this, I don’t yet know why our hero died. I have read that he called paramedics because he was having chest pains. I have heard that there were traces of several different drugs found in his body. News of the post mortem is awaited.
It has led to important conversations with Ossian, who is already aware of the tragic fact that an awful lot of incredibly talented musicians have died fighting addiction. One of his other drumming idols is Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham, who died aged 32 having reportedly overcome a heroin addiction but continued to battle with alcoholism up to his death.
But it also led to a remark from Ossian which made me really sad and which I will probably revisit with him.
On Mother’s Day yesterday we had a chilled afternoon watching Spiderman No Way Home and at the end there was a teaser for the next Marvel movie starring Tom Hardy as ‘Venom’. I said to Ossian: “He’s GREAT, he’s in Peaky Blinders, he’s brilliant, he’s one of my favourites, I love him”. And Ossian immediately said: “Oh don’t say that, he might die.”
I instantly made the connection with Taylor Hakwins. It’s been a standing joke for years in our house that mummy loves him more than Daddy. I instantly felt the need to say: “Oh my gosh, we can’t not love people just in case they die, that would be a dreadful way to live”.
Am I a weirdo? Is it normal for 45-year-olds to love, or say they love, rock stars or actors? Did I actually love Taylor? Did I just admire him? Did I just appreciate his talent? Did I just fancy him?
I’m not sure I can answer those questions. All I know is that I felt a sucker punch as soon as I saw his happy face on my news feed with the words ‘Foo Fighters drummer dies, age 50’.
It took me back to 1991, when I was a 13-year-old schoolgirl rock chick. My favourite band was Def Leppard. I remember so clearly hearing the news on the radio that their guitarist Steve Clark had died of alcohol poisoning. I cried that day too, but I imagine I felt no confusion or embarrassment, I was just crushed. And I cried because I was sad for the rest of the band, in the same way I am gutted now for the rest of Foo Fighters and especially for lead singer and founder Dave Grohl, who has already suffered such shocking grief in his life as the drummer in Nirvana when the legendary Kurt Cobain took his own life.
I’m not exactly sure what the point of this blog is, except that I probably started it because I felt the need to try to make sense of the weird mix of emotions I am feeling.
Perhaps to help myself, and anyone else who is attempting to untangle grief which has taken them by surprise, to understand that neither love nor grief are feelings we choose to feel, they just happen to us and maybe we don’t need to question or define them.
I have a deep-seated need in me to understand why I feel what I feel. But I’m not sure I can ever figure this one out. I feel silly. Grown-ups are not meant to feel like this about strangers. Especially when there is a war going on and so many people are losing loved ones. Yet here I am, crying because I heard the Foo Fighters song, My Hero, on the radio and the shock and sadness took over me again. Pathetic, surely? Perhaps. Or maybe I am simply an emotional investor and I can’t help feeling emotionally invested when another soul has connected with mine from a distance – through a 4-minute rock song, an ever-present smile or a documentary film.
To borrow a quote from Maya Angelou:
Love is many things. It is varied. One thing love is not, is unsure.
I am grateful for a world that contained Taylor Hawkins. I am grateful for the music and the joy he shared with me, with my son and with millions of fans around the world.
Thank you, Taylor, you will always be our hero.
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