Two years. Two years!? An instant and an eternity… Wasn’t it only yesterday that I viewed the When Doves Cry video for the first time? Although it wasn’t the first time I saw you, it was the first time I SAW you. Pleasing to the eye, to be sure (watching you rise up out of that bathtub, my little 13-year-old head almost exploded), but that chorus resonated with me and I knew you understood me on a level no one else could. Here was someone who GOT it, who could articulate my feelings in a way that I never could. You changed me then. You helped me become who I am in many ways. My feelings on race, gender, sexuality, the media, and even religion, I can attribute to you. Your words and actions taught me my life’s greatest lessons: that freedom – to create, to prosper, to influence, to BE – is more important than anything and to fight for it is a moral obligation that should never be questioned; that to raise myself up is not putting someone else down; that it is OK to remove toxic people from my orbit, even if they are someone I love; and, most importantly, that my circumstances are either an excuse or a motivator. I never imagined that I would one day be asking you your own question, “How could you just leave me standing in a world that’s so cold?”
It seems that your wisdom is boundless, as your creations continue to take me by surprise. In a place that is so dark without your physical presence, the imprint you left behind continues to comfort and console. Somehow, you knew what your purple family would need after your departure and you prepared for it so that we could find solace and some semblance of peace. Even as we find ourselves engulfed in the solitude of grief, your music wraps us in its warm embrace and acts as a balm to our spirits. The music. Always the music.
We must now rely solely on that music to drown out the noise which comes from a life cut short. The chaos of a 24-hour news cycle that thrives on cruelty and sensationalism serves only to remind us all that you let us see only what you wanted us to see. You no longer control the narrative and that is hard to digest. Seeing your most intimate spaces plastered all over the internet is like a kick to the gut. As much as I have desired to witness those private places, I was contented with imaging what they would look like. The mystique you worked so hard to create is being eroded by those who clamor for more, more, more, and that brings a whole new type of grief.
You were an extraordinary man, a born leader, a true visionary, a soldier in the army of God. Fearless. Confident. Humble. Grateful. But you must have been so very weary. You fought the good fight for all of us for so long. No matter the personal cost, you stood up for what you thought was right and thereby forced us all to take a closer look at ourselves. We will take up your torch now and we will make sure your light continues to shine bright. Death has claimed your body, but it cannot take your spirit. That is ours now. We will lift you up. We will not allow you to be diminished. Future generations will know you and we will teach them to carry on your legacy of creativity, spirituality, light, and love.
We pray that you know we miss you, we honor you, and we love you.
Until we see you again, rest easy, Maestro.