Monday morning I woke up to news that David Bowie passed away after a long, 18 month battle with liver cancer. I was devastated. Visibly. I woke my husband up crying, I cried on the way to work, I cried during work, I cried when I got home. Tuesday I woke up and did it all over again. It strikes me odd that I am so very affected by the loss of someone I’ve never met, someone I would very probably never meet.
I was born in the early nineties. Before Bowie was ever Major Tom to me, before he was Ziggy Stardust to me, before he was ever the man who fell to earth to me, he was Jareth the Goblin King. A fantastic dream, the first male character I believe I was ever enthralled with. He wasn’t necessarily attractive to me (do I have to acknowledge the age difference?) but he was magical and he was full of power. And he came to the call of a young, frustrated girl.
How you turned my world, you precious thing. You starve and near exhaust me. Everything I’ve done, I’ve done for you. I move the stars for no one.
– David Bowie, Within You
As a girl with daddy abandonment issues I connected to this. To him. I don’t know if it is normal to emotionally attach to people that go out of their way to take care of others but here I am at 23 and I’ve done that my whole life. Because of his role as Jareth, David Bowie set the bar for my future relationships. Not in a way such as come-steal-my-little-brother-and-give-me-a-puzzle-instead but in a way like make-it-unmistakably-known-that-you-would-do-anything-for-me-because-of-your-deep-affection. Have many people lived up to it? Certainly not. But for those that have, thank you Bowie.
Labyrinth is undeniably my favorite movie of all time. There are few productions that encroach that territory and even fewer scenes that I have ever seen that I would willingly rewind to watch over again. There is one scene I have seen hundreds and hundreds of times and have not yet tired of it: the masquerade.
The dreaminess. The artistic value. The sensuality. The search. And, oh, the song. As the World Falls Down is at the top of my list of lists. I sing it when I’m bored. I sing it in the shower. I sing it when I’m sad. I just sing it. It played at our wedding. This song means almost everything to me. Another list of mine is celebrities-I-would-like-to-have-lunch-with and David was of course at the top, if only for hors d’oeuvres. If I ever would get so lucky… I would have asked him to sing this song to me, quietly, intimately. I have no other answer for you. David Bowie was it. He was the dream.
Now he’s gone.
As the pain sweeps through, makes no sense for you, every thrill has gone. Wasn’t too much fun at all. But I’ll be there for you as the world falls down.
– David Bowie, As the World Falls Down
There is a certain and indescribable sadness of realizing you’ll never reach a longtime, almost lifetime long goal. I feel selfish even saying it out loud. I feel guilty that I have been so focused on what I lost and neglected to look at what the world has lost, he was an icon of fashion and being so wonderfully weird. He was different almost every of his active decades. His music evolved as his person did, his true self, somehow constantly changing, stayed true. I’ve neglected to look more closely, at what his precious family lost, he was David Jones, husband and a father, a rock. I forget what a battle cancer can be and my insides turn. How can I be so selfish?
This way or no way, you know I’ll be free. Just like that bluebird. Ain’t that just like me?
– David Bowie, Lazarus
Often they are taken unexpectedly. Often there is no time to say goodbye but there has never been a soul on this earth like David and there never will be again. Blackstar is a gift. Blackstar is a goodbye. Monday (how is it only Wednesday?), I came home from work, puffy eyed and deeply saddened. My husband greeted and embraced me, then presented me with a copy of Blackstar. I had mixed feelings: happiness that my partner thought this much of me and, what I can best describe as, anxiety to start listening to the last thing David Bowie did before he died. I put it off until Tuesday morning. Since then, I’ve been discovering this album, not even trying to decipher it and taking it all in as this era ceases.
Don’t believe for one second I’m forgetting you.
– David Bowie, Dollar Days
I never met David Bowie but I don’t feel forgotten. I never knew David Bowie but I don’t feel empty. David Bowie was 45 years old when I was born and I was unable to watch him grow but he gave us his life, his journey to follow, to question, to feel, to be understood and to find comfort. To feel connected. In the words of Major Tom, the stars look very different today. The stars will never look the same again.