“Such a Long Time to Be Gone and Such a Short Time to Be Here”
10 August 1995
Yesterday, 50 years ago, the second of only two atomic bombs ever used on mankind (at least to date) was dropped and yesterday Jerry Garcia died in his sleep & I feel like a bomb has been dropped on me.
Since 1971 and my return from military service in Korea, I have listened to the Grateful Dead and gone to their concerts. At my last show which was at RFK stadium just a few short months ago, I commented to several people that some how I knew this show was my 100th show and although it did not really matter, the number and all, in a way I was saying to my friends and to the DEAD that I was and am a DEADHEAD and proud of it for the DEAD always, always, made me happy and I always came away from a show smiling and better for the experience and for being a part of it.
For my father, he had hunting season to look forward to and the time he would spend with his father and father-in-law and his brothers and in the mountains and the cold and the wind and "the hunt" and I had Grateful Dead shows to look forward to and as much mark the years and seasons of the year as any calendar and now I do not know what I will do. As Mr. Garcia used to sing so well, "Some things you can replace and others you can not" and right now, today, I can not think of anything that will replace the Grateful Dead in my life and I am deeply sad.
Last night my friend Murray came over to the house and we watched a video I have of the 1989 Summer Solstice concert in California and listened to a tape Murray brought of which he has 100's and we smoked and listened and talked and he better than me, was happy for the time we had and all we had been given and I, was sad and mad cause I wanted more and watching Jerry on the video and listening to him be the leader and the follower and realizing that I would never again see him come onto the stage and pickup his guitar and smile out at the crowd, made me sad again and lost.
I never met Jerry although I have written him many letters over the years but his death strikes me like the loss of a true friend and beyond that, is the loss of something which has been around for so long that a part of my life is now also gone.
Priscilla made the very last show at RFK stadium cause, as she said then, "She just had to go." and as the DEAD would often sing as an encore, "This May Be the Last Time" and for her and I, it was. And Julie/Annie was sadden yesterday as well as she had announced some time ago, that when she graduated from high school she fully intended to follow the DEAD around on a summer tour and although I would have been frightened for her, I would have let her go and experience the cities and shows and the life which flowed so strong and true through the Grateful Dead. Now, she will, as the DEAD sang many time, "Pick a place to go and keep on truck'n"
Have been surprised and amazed at all the media attention of Jerry's death and the band cause for years and years, the Grateful Dead, was a well kept secret and although their concerts for years now have always been sold out, I always thought of them as my band, and not known by very many people but apparently their reach was far and wide. Of course anything that lasts 30 years desires some credit and for sure, the DEAD desire all the credit they are getting now, for literally, Jerry played his heart out for me and others like me who always wanted more and was so amazed at the places his music took me.
Today, it is hard for me to sort through all my thoughts and emotions but I know that a lot of what I am and what I strongly believe have either come from the DEAD or been confirmed by the DEAD and my link with them has at times been frightening and amazing.
Years ago, I sent Jerry some of my doodles with a letter and at a show in 1980, I saw my doodles flashed up on one of the large screens they always had at the shows and I could only smile and be happy that my message had gotten through.
Although I wrote Jerry many times and other members of the band, I don't think I ever told them enough how much they made me happy and what an escape from and an expansion of, reality, they were for me. I wish I had written Jerry recently and thanked him again for all his efforts.
Jerry was 53 years old when he died and I am now 49. We just never know do we?
Jerry, I will miss you so and all the good times you have given me and I know that I took more than I gave but I hope to listen to you again someday at the Jubilee you often sang about.
I do not know why I am writing this or to who I will send it but that was a part of the DEAD experience: To not question and simply to explore for the joy of it but somehow I want this on paper and all that read it to know that I love them all and thank you for what you have given me over the years.
We all have such a "Such long time to be gone and such a short time to be here"....Grateful Dead.