It's a nice night.
The kind of night I where I would normally jump in the car with my best friend Ant, pick up a couple of cans of Tecate and head to his pad to watch American Idol and talk about music for a few hours.
I can't do that anymore, he passed away a while ago.
I keep thinking it's going to get easier but it's not, I miss him and cry in little quiet moments I get inbetween work and trying to live in the maddening city we call San Francisco.
I thought I was good at dealing with death, frankly because I've seen a lot of it in the past few years, I've carried a lot of coffins, consoled a lot of friends and family...
and I was doing well.
This one has been the worst, I'm truly shattered.
After me and Tim found his body in his apartment, helped his family clean out his apartment, after driving his mother to the funeral home to pick up his ashes, after trying to be a vessel of information for his countless friends and family who need closure. I'm hollow.
He was my best friend, my bandmate, my DJ partner, we've been through the best and the worst together, 12 hour car rides on tour, band arguments, shitty days at work, failed relationships, we kept each other sane.
How could I have not seen the symptoms that led to his death, you just never think of your best friend dying. I'm heartbroken.
So I resolved to deal with these intense emotions. I bout a six pack of Red Stripe, put on "What's Goin' On" by Marvin Gaye and turned on my computer.
Maybe this exercise is futile, maybe a bit morbid, but something in me needs to see it, if you're not in the mood to really contemplate death please don't read this, I really just need to get it out.
What follows is my experiences with death, the people that touched me by passing.
Efren Chavez - My grandmother on my fathers side. I never really knew her. I hugged her, told her I loved her, but coming from a broken home I rarely saw her, all I knew was that she loved me, my dad told me that. This was the first person I ever saw die. She was hooked up to a reperator because she couldn't breathe for herself anymore. She was hollow, vacant. The machine would pump air into her lungs and she would swell like a balloon, then it would exhale for her and her body would shrink. I remember thinking she looked like a fish. That was the only time I ever saw my father cry. Mexican males are all mammas boys.
Jerry Balber - an old friend from Fresno, really funny, sweet, a dreamer, a father, he died way too young, it was on a camping trip where he played me Jimi Hendrix's "Electric Ladyland" for the first time. Thanks Jerry.
Jason Garcia - an insanely talented guitarist for a band I had the privelage to play with a few times called Gryp. I remember I got an add request from the band a couple of days before Christmas a couple of years ago. I clicked on their page to see what was up with the guys. The first thing I saw was R.I.P. Jason Garcia, then I read his wife's blog detailing his year long struggle to fight cancer.
Maurice Holly - My grandfather on my mothers side. The person I'm most like in my family, I have his patience, his hands. He didn't talk much in his final days, he was pretty much catatonic. I was in San Francisco at this point. I drove to Fresno one weekend to help my mother take care of him, his eyes lit up when he saw me, he wanted me to be with him while he had his blood drawn, just to be around, it broke my heart.
Robert Holly - My uncle, my mothers brother, my favorite relative, the most beautiful human being I've ever encountered. Amazingly spiritual, creative. He loved me to death and I loved him. He lived at 1760 haight street for over 20 years, right across the street from where I work. A couple of days before he passed he came to my apartment to see me. We caught up a for a bit, then I walked him downstairs because I had to go to work. He walked with a cane at this point, he had a weight problem and severe back issues. Before he left he stopped and looked at me, smiled, for a long time, told me he loved me and left, he died a couple of days later. The morning he died he left his apatment to get some donuts, on the way back he had a massive heart attack, by some crazy twist of fate a preacher happened to be walking by and gave him his last rights, he died on the steps of 1760 Haight Street. Later we found his journals, on the day he died he wrote that he knew it was time, he left the apartment so his husband wouldn't have to see it happen.
Eva Estrada - Loud, crazy, amazing cook, Puerto Rican from New York with a foul mouth and gave no apologies, hilarious. When she got cancer that all changed, well not much, we couldn't keep her in that damned hospital bed, she wasn't gonna let anyone help her pee. What a strong person, a fighter, amazing.
Irene Estrada - My aunt, adopted by my grandmother, she suffered from several physical and emotional problems. She loved me to death and took care of me quite often during my childhood. Although her life was hard she always persevered.
Bill Guyette - Uncle Bill the pill, grumpy gus, but when you got throught the gruff exterior he was a lamb. He was a gold miner in Rannsburgh, Ca. He always wore two holy medals around his neck, the virgin mary and jesus. I wear them now.
Dave Mahoney - Dave, what a crazy guy. He was part of the pioneering band MX-80. I worked with him for quite a while at Amoeba in SF. He had fallen out with his wife and kids and was desperately trying to make good. Eventually he did, it wasn't long after that he collapsed out of nowhere. He was quite the character, funny, insightful, humble.
Jessie Huestis - Another co-worker, what an awesome individual. My favorite memory involves a little device called the fart machine. It's a little black box that is controlled by a remote, when you push the button on the remote, any variety of wet or dry or, uhhhh, wet flatulent sounds eminated from the box. She would put it in her pocket and flirt with guys in the store, we'd watch from the back and at the right time hit the button. Their faces were priceless.
Bill Manzano - My stepfather, the father of my brother and sister. Great cook, Vietnam vet, loved life and food. Depression and diabetes got the best of him, he also knew he was going to pass. He told his family he loved them in several phone conversations before going brain dead in a Sacramento hospital.
Anthony Marin - the homie, damn son, I really really miss you.
This may all seem morbid, maybe it is a bit, but the universe gives out messages in strange ways, people leave this plane of existence when their time is up. Earth is a school, a hard one at that, we're here to learn specific lessons and to help others through theirs.
These people touched me, taught me, inspired me and I'm eternally grateful.
The one thing I wish I had was more time...
So, at the risk of sounding dramatic I say to all of you, if you have any love if your life, you cherish it, if you have any pain in your life, learn from it and let go of it, if you have any hatred in your life, acknowledge it and move on.
This existence is too short, too important for all of that petty nonsense.
We are all here to be the best we can be, we all matter, we are all capable of greatness...
This life we are experiencing is only the beginning of great things to come, things that transcend all philosophy and religeon we could possibly concieve.
Stay up y'all