By Nikhita Venugopal
This isn’t a concern I’ve always had. It really only started on Jan. 10, 2016, the day we lost David Bowie.
And I say “we” because it’s the way many of us talk about the loss of a creative soul — like we’re family or used to have Sunday dinner together — “We lost him.”
If you’re like me, you read the news of Prince’s death on Twitter. You watched as disbelief and confusion washed over legions of fans who collectively crumpled when it proved to be true. To paraphrase @femmeminem, you forgot that Prince could die.
Then came the endless stream of remembrances — we shared photos we didn’t take, snippets of stories we heard at parties, videos and songs from concerts we didn’t attend.
For at least that day, purple was your favorite color.
Watching fans look for ways to mourn the death of Bowie and Prince, and the magic they brought to this world, it made me think about my personal legend.
I plunged head first into The Beatles at the age of 10 or 11. I replayed those opening chords to “Blackbird” over and over. I prodded the piano in hopes of recreating that sound.
I wanted to take it all in. I read books and articles, and memorized lyrics. The best thing I own is a “Yellow Submarine” poster signed by John Lennon and Paul McCartney that hangs above my bed back home. I wore an oversized black “Abbey Road” t-shirt to college almost every week. I have two Saint Bernards and their names are Lucie and Ringo.
Though I have no small amount of love for George Harrison, Ringo Starr and John Lennon, McCartney has always been my favorite Beatle.
When we lose McCartney (God forbid any time soon, the world cannot take the loss of any more magic), I imagine I will find out on Twitter. I expect my heart rate will speed up before I’m left with a deep sadness. I will turn on “Yesterday” and it will have new meaning because its creator will be gone.
I knew that Prince had been hospitalized last week because of a tweet from Anil Dash:
Hi @Prince I know you are gonna be fine, but just a reminder that we all appreciate you & your work so much. Get well soon!
— ଅନୀଲ (@anildash) April 15, 2016
When we lose McCartney, I won’t be ready. It will take the wind out of me and my appreciation for the indelible impact that The Beatles’ music has left on me will never feel more apparent.
I’m not writing this to be morbid but rather to question how you mourn the loss of someone you never knew.
A few hours after the news of Prince’s death, I saw this tweet by @ElusiveJ, from January, being re-shared.
Thinking about how we mourn artists we’ve never met. We don’t cry because we knew them, we cry because they helped us know ourselves.
— Juliette (@ElusiveJ) January 11, 2016
So Mr. McCartney, if you ever read this, please know that I am eternally grateful for your work, and I don’t want either of us to leave this world without me saying that.
Nikhita Venugopal is a journalist based in New York. You can follow her on Twitter @nkvenugopal.