Tomorrow I’m participating in PurpleStride Phoenix, a fundraiser to support programs and services for pancreatic cancer patients and their families, in memory of my mom.
Since this whole 52 Weeks in 2021 project is in her memory (she died from pancreatic cancer at age 52, the age I turn this year), I thought it would be appropriate to share a song I wrote a year after she died.
I wrote it as a poem and read it at an open poetry night in Los Angeles in 1998, a year minus a day after she died (so it was really “a year ago tomorrow’ when I first shared it in public.) After I read it, somebody in the audience invited me to share it at another poetry reading a week or two later.
A year ago tomorrow, you breathed your last breath
The first step of a journey, a beginning and an end
A year ago tomorrow, I whispered in your ear
There was no way knowing if you could even hear
A few years ago, when I started revisiting my older songs, I wrote music for it on guitar, using the only three chords I knew at the time, which means it sounds like all the other songs I recorded at that time. For this week, I decided to revisit it once again and record it on Logic.
This is the first song I’ve written on the DAW using only my MIDI keyboard for the music – no loops or real instruments. I wanted it to have a somber, mysterious sound so it’s all synth sounds. Since the original had no real song structure, I moved things around a little bit from the original because I thought it helped the song flow better.
Six to twelve months the doctors guessed, it turned out you only had six weeks left
Six weeks to say goodbye, six weeks to wonder why
You spent your 52nd birthday in a hospital bed
“Happy Birthday” the balloons, cards and flowers said
We soon reversed our roles, I became the parent and you the child
I fed you lemon icees, the taste made you smile
I’m looking at an old photograph, it’s painful to know there’s no turning back
But time, like your killer, has no cure
Your future is the present and the past is but a blur
Time passes so quickly, one chance and then it’s gone
You must make the most of each moment and hope your memory lingers on
A year from now tomorrow, who knows where we’ll be?
There’s no way of knowing our destiny.
Here’s the working version of the song – it’s not mixed yet and I may re-record some of the vocals, too.
Here’s the older version guitar, circa 2016. (Warning: Cringeworthy guitar playing and it’s much faster than the electronic version.)
The goal for the team in memory of my mom was $520 (a nod to 52 Weeks in 2021 if that’s not obvious) and we’ve exceeded it! But if you’re so inclined to donate to help pancreatic cancer patients and their families, you can do that here.