At the time of this original writing it was 25 -years since Lennon’s death.
Remembering John Lennon on Dec 8, 2005
Some memories stand out because of the joy they bring, and sadly many stay with us because of the terrible shock and sorrow that surrounds them. Certain losses are felt by an entire culture as a tragedy.
On November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated as he rode in a motorcade through Dealey Plaza in downtown Dallas, Texas. I was a child living in Toronto, just shy of my sixth birthday, but even at such a young age I knew something serious had happened. Walter Cronkite broke into the regular television programming to announce that JFK had been shot and killed. The illusion that the world was a safe place, even from the perspective of a young child, was shattered. A great wave of sadness and disbelief overwhelmed people the world over. In the blink of an eye everything that seemed normal had shifted. It was like that for me when Lennon was killed.
Today, December 8 2005, is the twenty-fifth anniversary of the senseless killing of John Lennon, shot by a selfish man who wanted to be famous by being the person to silence one of our musical and cultural heroes. That day and those events are remembered by masses of people. His death stunned us. We can describe where we were, what we were doing, who we were with, how we reacted in the moments and days afterward. It seemed as if the world had experienced a deep shock, the kind that rips apart our sense of normalcy.
On the day it happened I was in California visiting a friend. We had been enjoying a wonderful evening out. When we returned her house-mate met us at the door sobbing and told us John Lennon had been shot and had died. My initial response was shock and anger.
I recalled the other times I’d received news of unexpected deaths of young family members and the initial feelings of anger and disbelief that accompanied it. I yelled, why on earth would you make up such an obscene and cruel lie? It seemed impossible to fathom, no way John Lennon could have been shot, let alone be dead!
We sat down to watch the news reports, we cried for hours. But more than that, it was a tidal wave of grief that swept over me. I felt saturated in a depth of sadness that lasted a very long time.
And yet, it also served as an igniting spark that caused me to shift my life direction in significant ways. At home again in Toronto, I was isolated, alone, and lonely on the night when I watched masses of people gather from all around the world to mourn John Lennon. Images of candle vigils and people singing his songs in cities everywhere was profoundly moving. I too lit candles, becoming a part of the community of people sharing in our grief and contemplation, and thankful too that we had been blessed by the creative genius of John Lennon.
We each have our own way of coping with powerful events. Many times these experiences send out ripples of change, breaking up stagnation and creating new life trajectories. My own life was altered in so many important ways after Lennon’s death. I had a miscarriage soon after arriving back in Toronto after my trip to California. I ended my marriage, and redirected my life and my choices. I began to think and live differently.
And, I started to have John Lennon dreams, lots of them over the course of many years. The dreams had an uplifting tone to them, leaving me with a feeling of optimism. It was a curious mix though, the sadness about Lennon’s death with an excitement about the creative messages that came from him in the dream world.
And how about you? How did Lennon’s death impact you; are you living the life you want to be in the years since?
Note: Dec 11, 2012. Today I read an article stating that the album signed by John Lennon, the one owned by his murderer Mark Chapman, is going up for auction. I wish that were not the case.
Dec 17, 2012 I watched a PBS documentary on Lennon’s years in New York and LA, through the 70s until his death in 1980. The next morning I dreamt about him once again.