The cloud of grief was a long storm for me. My mother died in 2004. While I had been able to continue a recording session after getting the news on the phone, the months and years following were darkened by sadness, confusion, fear, and a slew of unresolved childhood issues. I didn’t know quite where to put all of this. It didn’t bother me acutely every day, but it was a state of mind that I couldn’t shake. I could only talk so much about it with friends, as it’s generally a downer, and the best anyone can offer is that it will get better. It does get better, but time alone doesn’t seem to heal things. One has to accept difficult things eventually in whatever way he can. Thankfully, the things you can’t control are easier to let go of; you get to skip the forgiveness step.
I was stunned at how quickly everything had happened with her illness. It was only a few months between the first news and her dying of cancer. Information was revealed in tiny bits, so between my blinding fear and her reticence in giving full disclosure, I didn’t grasp that she was dying until the last days. I sat beside her bed in the hospital, my mom a little bald bug with big brown eyes. After some time I said, “I’m sorry…” and she said, “I know.” That was really all that was said about any of it.
In the months after she’d passed away, I was convinced I must also have cancer. I felt mysterious pains in my body– worried my liver was going cold, or thinking something was wrong with my testicles. Other days it might be a brain tumor...or perhaps just a headache. A doctor friend assured me that if something was pathologically wrong with me, I’d have real symptoms.
Musically I was fiddling with the new piano I’d acquired for my house, writing new pieces. Pieces, they were, not complete songs. I didn’t have cancer, I had writer’s block. Or some run-of-the-mill depression. I experimented with new chord voicings, slower tempos, and orchestral instruments. Experimentation extended to my facial hair, covering half my face with some remarkable mutton chops. I carried a fleece blanket into my psychoanalysis sessions to stay warm.
“It’s Time To Go” is a lyrical extension of my conversation next to the hospital bed. It’s also a conversation I am having with myself about getting past my grief, letting go of that fear and getting on with my life.