It has been more than a year since I have updated anything on this site, more than a year since I’ve uploaded any videos, and more than a year since, well, a lot of things.
Let’s get in the way back machine.
In October 2020 I uploaded my most recent video, a cover of Dixie Dregs’ “Ice Cakes.” I began immediately working on my next cover, which was to be *Frost’s “Hyperventilate” – a very, very ambitious task. The winter holidays came and went that year and, to be honest, I didn’t keep up with my usual rate of progress as the song is incredibly technical, there is no sheet music, the tabs are nonexistent, and the videos sparse. In other words I would have to do virtually all of the heavy lifting (learning the notes of the song) by ear, which can take a long time. Plus, I was feeling both lazy from the holidays and a bit too proud of my October covers, I thought I could rest on my “laurels” after nailing “Acid Rain,” as it were.
Once January was finished, I renewed my efforts, making slow progress.
One the night of March 2, I got a phone call from someone I have not spoken with in more than 20 years. It was Gary Buck Sr., my best friend’s (Gary Jr.) father. I knew that Gary Sr had been ill, quite close to death a few years earlier, but a cancer treatment they started on him literally brought him back to life, but I didn’t have any recent knowledge of his health.
Gary Sr. was very much a father figure in my life after losing my own dad at 14. He really took me in, let me pretty much live with them and always treated me as his own son. I was extremely fortunate to have such a generous, loving and caring person step in to my life at that time, and he remained an important part of me until the past 20 years when he remarried and we lost contact. But here he was, on the phone.
He didn’t sound good, I knew this was Good Bye. We talked for 20 wonderful minutes, told each other what was in our hearts. I expressed my deep appreciation and love for him; it was perhaps the most on point conversation I’ve ever had. Completely unguarded and totally real. I knew this was goodbye, it was sad but sweet all at once. I felt a profound sense of closure, completeness and joy at having notably known such a caring person but being able to tell them how I felt after all these years.
The last thing he asked me was to contact his son, as he really wanted to talk with him. I thought that was an odd request as his son was around, but I assured him I would. I hung up the phone to call Gary Jr and ask him to call his father, but Gary Jr’s voicemail was full. That’s odd, but he’s scatterbrained, so who knows. I didn’t think much of it, hoping he would talk to his father that night.
The next morning, I had a text message on my phone from Gary Jr’s wife, which was weird, because to be honest, she did not like me, never spoke to me and so it was unexpected. It read, “This is to tell you Gary passed away peacefully in his sleep last night at 3:35 AM.” I thought, “Gary Sr must have died last night. I don’t know why she is telling me, maybe Gary Jr is upset by his father’s passing or something.” It was sad, but somewhat expected considering our conversation the prior night.
I typed back, “I am sorry for your loss, he was a wonderful person and will be missed.”
She texted back, “I am thinking of all the songs you two had written.”
I paused, confused.
I texted, “Gary Sr or Gary Jr?” because I had just said Goodbye to Gary Sr the night before.
She typed “Gary Jr.”
I screamed, dropped my phone and fell on the floor.
They had both died.
Gary Sr and Gary Jr. – at once.
I lost it. I was a wreck, I couldn’t imagine that Gary Jr died, too. I knew he was sick with stage 4 cancer, but we never ever talked about his illness or progression. I spoke with him less than 2 weeks earlier, and it was a totally “normal” conversation, normal topics, normal laughs, normal tone.
I was FURIOUS that all I got was a text message from his wife telling me that my best friend of 44 and a half years died. A text message, like an MFA number, or like saying “Wassup?”. That was it; that would be all I got.
There was nothing I could do. I am sure that it was horrible for her to see him getting sicker and sicker, and while I wanted to call and scream at her for the utter disdain she showed me in the cavalier way of giving me the worst news I had heard in 40 years, but our of respect for him I could not do that.
As the spring and summer went by I sort of just went on with things. I grieved and thought that was the end of it, but a shadow had been growing that I didn’t notice as summer came and went. I thought about him multiple times everyday. I would, and still do, wish I could dream of being with him again as I miss him so damned much, my heart aches and gives out as I think of him.
The day he died I had a dream with him. we were at my old practice space off of Western Avenue. I was in the parking area, and he was walking on the other side of the street towards a tunnel. he was wearing black cowboy boots, had his trademark longhair, and was dressed in black. He walked slowly, deliberately towards the tunnel.
I was screaming to get his attention, to acknowledge me, but he didn’t seem to hear. Cars suddenly appeared in the street racing around in between us so I couldn’t not cross – and I was desperate, absolutely frantic to get to him. but I couldn’t reach him.
I was so upset as he entered the darkness of the tunnel I was hysterical. I couldn’t get to him or even make him look at me no matter what I did. I woke up drowning in tears, sobbing, shaking. I still don’t dream of him and I so want to, even so I could be happy in my dreams.
I tried playing bass, but I couldn’t, no matter how determined I was to keep at it. It felt weird. Pointless. I worked up a UK song, but could never get through it, much less make a video. I seriously thought about selling all my gear and giving up because the music died inside; the thought still crosses my mind. I stopped regular practice and didn’t care. The shadow grew until all became dark.
I am still in the dark. I am crippled by the fact that I can no longer share my past with someone who lived so much of it with me and can remember it, too. It’s dead history now. No one to ask, “Remember when we did ________ and how you did _________?” I can’t vocalize those memories like that anymore, there’s no one to remember them with me, they have been silenced forever, never to come to life, just another set of memories that lay quiet.
I am crippled by the fact I can’t discover some new music, or some musician and share it with him. I am crippled by the fact I can’t make sure he was the first person to see a video of mine, as if I was a kid trying to show him something I made out of something he gave me, like, “Look what I can do because of you – I hope you are proud – this is all because of you.”
This past Christmas Eve was very difficult as it was the first time in 44 years I didn’t talk to him on his birthday. This coming March 3 is going to be absolute and total hell, I dread it, I hate March.
My longing isn’t just for him, our memories, and our lives, I long to tell him how much I love him, how much he means to me still, how I cannot go a few minutes without thinking of him and how it hurts that I can’t talk to him or even dream of him. I want him to tell me just how I can continue and how it’s OK that I keep going without him. I don’t know how. I can’t figure that part out.
Today I woke up and the usual thoughts were there. But today was a little different. Just a bit. I hope I am finding a way to fight back. A way through the horrible pain I feel all the time. Updating this blog after so many months is a hopeful sign.
I’ve got a bass on it’s stand, plugged into my Focusrite. It’s all plugged in waiting for me.
It’s a start.