Thirty years? How could it possibly be that long? I remember being woken by Mom that morning to get ready for university. Knowing it would be important to me, she told me right after waking me up. “John Lennon was shot to death last night.” In my half-awake state, I struggled to understand her words. I was sure she was saying, “John and Linda were shot to death last night,” referring to my twin sister and her husband. She seemed rather calm while telling me though, so I figured I was misunderstanding something. But even when I finally deciphered the message, I still figured I was misunderstanding things. I still do.
I remember later that day, sitting with Pam Osmond at the MUN Education Building library, talking about Lennon. Pam was always a wonderful person to chat with; she just had a way of finding the sense in almost anything. But neither of us could pick much sense out of this. Not that John Lennon was any great saint or above the same fate that strikes down too many promising lives in any given city on any given day. From experimenting with drugs, to saying the Beatles were bigger than Jesus, to inciting us to, “Imagine there’s no heaven,” John never really seemed to want to get back to his Anglican choirboy roots. Yet I don’t think he ever fully left them either. He was always seeking something higher; always encouraging us to imagine and build a better future. Of all the poets and the dreamers, John Lennon was the one who made a better world sound the most attainable. Give peace a chance. War is over if you want it. It’s easy if you try. You couldn’t really argue with the logic of that. We just needed more people to believe it with us.
If Lennon were alive today, he’d be 70. 70. There are some people I’ve never really been able to picture old. I just can’t visualize this guy in his 70s or 80s, starting to be a little bent and tired. That just wasn’t John Lennon to me. But as I think about it now, maybe John’s greatest moments were still ahead of him. Imagine all that vision and creativity interlaced with the counsel of his years. Lennon was mellowing in those last years, having taken that hiatus to raise his family and then just releasing that album before it all ended. He was figuring out a lot of things. He had a lot more to learn and to teach us.
I’m suddenly sitting here with blank fingertips. After tapping out everything to this point almost without pausing, popping back and forth between this and chatting with my daughter on Facebook in another window, I’m suddenly empty. It’s gone. There’s no next sentence ready to jump into place. And after sitting here for five minutes, trying to find an ending, I realize there isn’t one. There’s no resolving thought or tidy ending to this story. It was all left hanging. It still is. Some things are indeed over, whether we want them or not.
It’s up to us to write the next song.