Dying Rock Star

About a month ago I read a book about musician Warren Zevon. If you don't know anything about him, he wrote and recorded Werewolves of London. I've been a big fan of his for many years.

In 2002 he was diagnosed with lung cancer and after refusing treatment, was given about a year to live. He did the only thing he could do. He enlisted his friends and recorded a final album. He lived long enough to see the release of the album, but not much longer. I remember when it happened. I watched a documentary about the making of the album and bought the album.

There was nothing about the end of his life in the book that surprised me. But my mom was dying. And she had Alzheimer's. She was not surrounded by her friends. She would not have known them. She could not do the things that made her happy her whole life. Maybe that would have been entertaining with friends, traveling or even shopping. Her final trip was to a memory care community in Connecticut in an RV with Deborah and me.

Before reading this book, I had recently seen my mom and said goodbye. For real.

I knew it was goodbye. Forever.

I think she knew it too.

As I read about Warren's final recording sessions, quiet tears streamed down my face. I wiped them away as I tried to keep reading. He was surrounded by friends, doing the only thing he could do. But he had bad days. I was happy for him. Sad for his family. Sad for his friends. He was a larger than life figure who made an impact on those around him. I was sad for my mom and my family. But happy knowing that her suffering would end soon.

I got to the end of the book and sat down next to Deborah. I looked at her, my eyes wet with tears, and said, I'm sad. And then I started sobbing. Huge, full-body wracking sobs. The emotion of something that happened nearly 20 years ago washed over me. But I wasn't crying for Warren. I knew my mom would be gone soon. I just didn't know at that time that she would pass in about 2 weeks.

My reaction to the story of Warren Zevon's final album was the most visceral emotional outburst throughout my mom's final days. Its uncontrollable nature surprised both me and Deborah. And it's taken about a month for me to write about it. Those feelings are still in there. I don't know what will trigger their release again. But it will happen.

Jeffrey L Cohen

Jeffrey L Cohen