A woman came into my life. She was not typical. She was not average. She wasn't even in the same demographic.
She came into me vibrant and full of life teaching me wisdoms and showing me compassion. Understanding me more than any woman ever has. She gets me, she sees through me, and without fully knowing me, she knew me.
A profound thing happened to me yesterday. One of the most powerful moments of my life and it is something I will never forget until the day that I am dead.
This is my story about Catherine.
A few years back, our drummer Robby met a girl. He moved in with her and started working with her at a place in Corona Del Mar California. While working there he met a woman named Catherine and they became very close.
Robby's relationship with the girlfriend dissolved and Robby moved in with Catherine.
You may think you know where this is going, but this is going to throw you for a loop.
Catherine is in her 50's. She's a demanding woman, she is full of knowledge and she is beautiful with the soul of a 5 year old and the grace of Catherine Hepburn ironically.
She came into every member of the bands life in one way and this is how she impacted mine.
Over the course of the last few years of knowing Catherine, she became a mom to our band and a best friend to us. She was at every show and if you saw us on our tour with Kaddisfly and Bedlight For Blue Eyes, you saw Catherine.
She was a woman who has had millions of dollars and after her divorce, nothing. Shes seen the world, experienced things you and I will one day wish we get to experience.
While knowing and loving Catherine, we came to expect nothing but love and support from her however she was always surprising us in the most selfless of ways. Catherine WAS wealthy. When her husband divorced her, he took everything and left her with nothing, not even a phone call. However, Catherine always managed to give us all money before tour as gifts and has loaned us, which now we will never be able to repay, and knowing her she wouldnt let us anyway, but she gave us a few thousand dollars when we broke down on tour, to make repairs.
She never asked us for anything in return until the Kaddisfly tour. She asked us if we could take her with us on tour and im going to get back to this tour in a second.
When we got signed and were heading to record our album LUNA, she was right there supporting the band with everything she had.
We found out that Catherine was diagnosed with Cancer. We werent sure exactly how bad it was but Cancer is never good. My mother has it, my grandmother passed away from it and over the course of my young short life, I have lost alot of people to alot of things from suicide, drug overdose to cancer. None of them fair, none of them right.
When my grandmothers passed away I didnt cry. I dont know if it was because I was numb from my experience with my brother in Irag (suicide bombing). Thats another story coming soon.
We didnt know how serious her condition was, so when we got back from making the album, Robby started taking her to the doctor for check ups. Check ups turned into chemo and chemo turned into getting injections that cost around $10,000k each. This was over the course of a year that things just progressively got worse.
I remember scrambling all my contacts to find a doctor who could help her. She would tell us she was fine, and they found something for her even the story I was getting from Robby was that she was terminal. She lost all her hair and her weight was bouncing back and forth but she looked really healthy.
That was probably because the cancer was inside her lungs. Her fear was dying without being able to breath. They removed part of the tumor in her lungs and that removed some of her ability to breath. She refused to remove anymore tumors from her lungs out of fear.
Her skin was soft, her hair was a nice shiny silver that accompanied her age respectfully. She looked really good from the outside, but on the inside, this cancer was destroying her. Its truly amazing how fast someone can deteriorate and it reminds me how fragile we are as people.
She was told she had a few weeks to live and nothing made her lose her pep. Not even the news of the inevitable. It was seriously one of the most inspiring things I have ever experienced in my life. To know that your going to die, and nothing can phase you.
To protect us, she would tell us she wasnt in pain at all, she would tell us she was going to make it and that they kept finding all these positive treatments for her and because maybe I was gullible and I believed her hook line and sinker. I took it all.
She wanted to tour with us.
We told her that we were going to make her experience what we go through. Your label will never know what its like to be on the road in the van because each experience is unique. Your fans dont really know, your parents dont know. Only YOU know because your living in that van, sleeping on the floor, you setting up and tearing down each night. Your the one wondering how your bills are going to get paid all because you just love something so much to continue doing it every night. For us, thats making music for the kids who still believe in true sincere music from honest genuine people. Maybe thats why Catherine came into our lives? She is one of the most pure honest and genuine people I have ever met. Maybe thats why it was so fitting.
So she came out on tour and got everything we told her she would. The floors, the smelly boys, the long drives, the high fives, the whole nine. She fell in love with the bands we were on tour with and shared her wisdom and love with them. Everyone who met Catherine fell in love with her. How could you not. Something so pure only comes along very rarely in our lives and when you find it, embrace it, it never lasts. Its much like a shooting star.
After the tour she continued on with good health and we hit the road once again, but this time without her.
When we came home, we found out that Catherine was more terminal then ever and Robby was making plans for her. She was to go to a hospice, and she would pass slowly.
Robby and Catherine moved out of their place and we had just finished our tour in Japan and Hawaii and she was on my mind and heart so heavy.
I arrived back from Hawaii and we prepared for the tour we are on now and by fate she was in Portland in a hospice. We packed our stuff to fulfill our first 2 tour dates and then drove straight to Portland to see her before having to rush to Seattle that night for our show. We showed up and completely surprised her and trust me, if you know Catherine, you know this is not easy. She is almost all knowing... very much omnipresent ha.
Catherine wasnt breathing well, and there were moments, like when we all stood to take a picture that she was gasping needing her machine that provided her with pure oxygen. She was incredibly excited to see us and the look of her happiness was like a little girl during christmas. My heart felt this strange conflict of pain and happiness for her. I welled up heavily and had to leave several times. I have been her before in this moment with someone but something about this experience was new to me.
I sat with her for most of the time and looked at her, a much more frail person than the one I saw just a month ago. The cancer was changing her appearance and destroying her.
We sat at the table and something very profound happened to me internally, much the same, is why I make music. LET IT BE came on the radio right as she was telling us that she is refusing resuscitation, refusing adrenaline and anything to keep her alive. She has waved all of that to just die. As the song played I could not hear anything more because my fears were more confirmed now than ever. Catherine is going to die very very soon and I am crushed beyond all belief. She spoke about passing as if she was going to the grocery store, with the same casual manner.
I ran outside and completely released in front of their neighbor who probably had no idea what was wrong with me and I battled my emotions and feelings. I remember once my grandmother telling me, as we spread my grandfathers ashes that "we cry for ourselves. We cry because in nature, humans are selfish, and we dont know how to let people go. We want them to be around forever"
That is why I never cried for her, or my other grandmother. Not because I wasnt hurt, but because she spoke truth and I adapted to learn how to let go. This is a really unique quality that very few people have and I was blessed with it. I have a defense system that allows me to not feel jealousy, or much pain in almost any situation.
Like i said before tho, there are very few pure moments in life, and this was one, and it cut deep.
I collected myself as Robby came out and held me while I cried, he was strong because he has already cried his heart out and this time was my moment. To feel that this is bullshit, and this is unfair, its wrong. How can there be no cure, how can this be ok. How can this be right.
My faith in God will never waver, and it has never. That is the special thing about real faith. I dont need a church to know faith. For people who base their life only on things like a rock is a rock, its scientific fact, they will never understand the true essence of faith and God Bless them for that. Nothing wrong with that, but there is something that is special about believing with your eyes closed because you feel and know it in your heart to be true. Its not something your taught, its not something you should be forced to feel, its something that you find... on your own with your heart.
We came inside and played acoustically for her and she cried out the last tears she had in her dehydrated body. It broke me incredibly. Like I have never been broke before. This was the last time I would ever sing to Catherine, and I could not look her in the eyes or else my already breaking up voice would become inaudible.
I couldnt eat even though her family provided an incredible spread of food for us. My stomach was in knots. I knew this would be my personal last moments with Catherine and I was not ok with that.
I held her for a very long time crying on her shoulder thanking her for coming into my life. It hurt tremendously and hurts more as I type this from the back of the van, driving, further and further away from her, feeling like I would give anything to be with her but I know that my heart could not handle that or maybe I dont want to be that vulnerable. Maybe im really afraid of completely feeling it take me over. Much like I have always questioned people, when i did go to church. They throw their hands up and sing eyes closed with all their soul and I always felt weird that I never felt compelled to do that. I thought it was fake. Now, I realize that for some people its very real. They are compelled because they have allowed their faith to take them completely, however I dont know if I have ever let anything take me completely but this moment came close.
She cried as we drove away and it broke me a little more. We were told we probably wouldnt make our show and by the grace of god we got to the venue right as 1997 finished and there was a good amount of kids with a puzzled look on their faces wondering if we would even make it and when they saw us, some started screaming and yelling for us. We were rushed and set up and during that set up. Jimmy Eat Worlds "CLARITY" album was playing. I was just given the vinyl album 3 days prior however that album changed my life when I first heard it in 1999. Its my all time favorite record and to have it playing was more than a coincidence for me.
It was once again a moment of feeling like there was a hand on me, comforting me and letting me know that things are going to be ok.
The crowd was phenomenal and at one point crying during Where Do You Go that we played acoustically. It was a very powerful moment for me and I am sure for them.
I will never see Catherine again, and during this tour, there is going to be a moment when she passes, and its inevitable now. There are no more miracles, or medications that will remove the cancer. Only ones to dull the pain.
I have often felt like I could die tomorrow and I would be ok with it. I have learned to let go of all of my fears in that however I am very vulnerable when it comes to people who are as pure as Catherine and especially children. We dont really feel bad for people who lead shitty lives. Its almost like, they deserve it? Altho, no one really deserves death in a sense, its more like, you just dont feel as bad.
I guess i really dont know how I was planning to end this. I dont even think there is a right ending to this. I hope this story touched you and maybe inspired some feelings from personal experiences you have gone through.
When you get a chance, listen to the song Let It Be for Catherine, as she is in a sense, Letting It Be.
I am going thru an array of feelings right now. We are about to head out on tour and there is so much going on internally with us. Nothing bad, like, we hate each other or anything. Were all best friends, always will be. However. Certain feelings have come up about wanting to pursue a life that doesn't involve touring, and struggling on the road. When you have done it for years and years you start to feel like its repetitious and its not the easiest thing to always keep your passion; your passion.
Yesterday, I found out that our very close friend, who is essentially a mom to everyone in our band, Catherine, is about to pass away. I mentioned this before in blogs and for some of you who came out to our tour with Bedlight & Kaddisfly, remember who she is. She has essentially single handedly been one of the best things to ever happen to this band, and we watched her go from incredible health and long hair to chemo and nothing at all and through all of this, we were told she would make it and now we know that sadly, she wont.
I just wrote Kaddisfly and Bedlight to let them know and as im writing this i feel very emotional and tear driven. I hate losing people and I know that her pain will be gone but I cant help but feel like somethings, sometimes are just so incredibly fucked up. This lady asked us to bring her out on tour with her and that it would "make her life". We told her straight up, to not expect a lavish lifestyle, were gonna sleep on floors some nights and do it the real way, that real bands have to do it, and if your in, your in. She never complained once. This coming from a woman who never had kids, was married and had millions and left everything behind for a simple life. Now she is leaving the world behind and in my heart and mind, I feel content knowing that when she said " I have never felt more alive, then touring with you guys", she meant it.
Now, im getting ready to head out on the road and honestly, my heart is just not in it right now. I dont blame some of the guys for being emotionally traumatized in this, especially Robby our drummer, who lived with her and for the past year put his life on the back burner to take her to chemo, to deal with her treatments, and the emotional roller coaster of knowing whether she would live our die and now knowing the inevitable.
Its very, very painful for me and the guys right now.
As some of you know, Nathan our bass player, has chosen after his acl tear, that he was going to look at getting married and settling down with his woman, who he is in love with. His did however finish Japan and Hawaii with us even tho he had to drop off that last radio tour. We havent decided who will take that spot or what collectively everyone will feel after this tour. I think right now, matters of the heart are taking more importance than matters of playing all over the country right now. You will still see us on this tour, we will probably be playing without a bass player, and to backing bass tracks and the ironic part is i just went on a rant about dudes who dont play their instruments and get up and fake it. Well, we wont be faking it, but we will have an invisible bassist more than likely, if not be surprised. Funny how the irony of it all works out.
We have another single to come out, and a video for that and have been discussing the next record. I have been writing so much my head wants to explode lately and Im overwhelmed with life, the loss of it to come, and things in life, like:
1. What does it all mean
2. What is really most important for us an individuals
3. Should we just start a screamo dance techno band... (i hope you know im seriously joking)
I hope this blog doesnt freak out anyone or anything, i just dont dig psychologists and I dont know how to express myself when I have anxiety other than writing. I already threw up today and my stomach still hasnt settled.
Thanks for always listening to the few out there who actually care and when you see us on this next tour, were really going to need some hugs, its been a rough year for us with people passing, touring non stop with no breaks and everything else that this industry brings.