Tuesday, December 08, 2009

IMAGINE: Remembering John Lennon

Some people have a favorite number. Me, I like the number 8. It has balance and even when knocked on its side, it resembles the symbol for infinity. Good karma there in that number 8.

I also have a favorite word -- imagine. The two are actually woven together, at least in my mind. The number eight with its balance and the word imagine which offers infinite possibilities. Those three syllables strung together open up a world for hopes and dreams.

I remember pondering hopes and dreams back towards the turn of the new millennium. At the time there really wasn`t a significant other in my life and my plan as New Year`s Eve and Day approached was to simply be with my children. I thought about the moment when Y2K would finally arrive. I wasn`t worried about all the then anticipated computer crashes when the numbers rolled to 2000. I was more concerned about the song I would be listening to at the exact moment of 12:00:00 January 1, 2000.

Of course it had to be a Beatles song, but which? There are so many. In My Life? Maybe. Let it Be? Possibly. And then it struck me. It struck me like instant karma.


Yes it had to be Imagine! What possible better choice could there be than the greatest anthem of all time? What could possibly be better than the anthem of possibilities heading into a new millennium?

So there I was as the clock struck 12, holding each of my children, staring towards the Inner Harbor sky bedazzled by celebratory light and listening to those simple yet magical chords and those words of hope:

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one


It`s a moment I will cherish always.

After I put the kids to bed, I sat alone on my couch, looking out towards the water and the lights again. There was a peacefulness about that night that I`ve never known before or since. I thought about that moment with the kids and John Lennon. I thought about the joy that he brought into my life and into the lives of millions around the globe. And then the peacefulness of the moment was disrupted by thoughts of the tragedy that took him from us.

On that night of December 8, 1980, I remember being in the kitchen preparing for an exam the next morning. My Dad was in the basement watching Monday Night Football. I recall hearing the voice of Howard Cosell while studying. It was more background noise than anything else that was easily blocked out until I heard those words, "John Lennon shot." Those words exploded through the background noise and gripped my consciousness like a steel trap.

I ran down the stairs, stopping halfway and looked towards my Dad hoping that somehow he would tell me that I hadn`t heard what I thought I heard. The sullen look on his face told me all that I needed to know. I waited with hope -- a hope that proved to be fleeting when Cosell announced:

"An unspeakable tragedy confirmed to us by ABC News in New York City, John Lennon outside of his apartment building on the west side of New York City, the most famous perhaps of all of The Beatles, shot twice in the back, rushed to Roosevelt Hospital, dead on arrival."

I retreated to my room. Once there, I reached for my Beatles' albums and the headphones and listened. I don't recall hearing anything. I just wanted to go to a place where John was still alive -- in his music. I was numb and couldn't cry. The surrealism of the night wouldn't allow me. Did this really happen?

Was it in a dream? Was it just a dream?

The next day, I had that exam. I didn't take it -- didn't go to school. I sought the solace of my room and John's music. Reality set in and the tears came.

The dream was over. What could I say?

But the music lives on and therefore in my mind and in my heart so does John.

Today I will make my annual trek up to Central Park, today being the twenty-sixth anniversary of John's departure to another form of consciousness. I will visit his memorial park, Strawberry Fields where I'm sure I'll hear more of his magical words:

"Living is easy with eyes closed, misunderstanding all you see..."

Thanks John...you will always shine on like the moon, and the stars and the sun...