October 23, 1978- June 24, 2023
Family is a strange sometimes indefinable thing and yet without it we are tragically alone. For all practical purposes I have no immediate family. That’s just the way it is and it’s water under the bridge. When I married Vanessa all of a sudden I found myself a part of a large and incredibly dynamic family group. Being in the orbit of the Gagnés has made me feel that indeed I am a part of something bigger than myself.
In the early 90’s Vanessa’s niece Sarah came to live with us for a while when we were still at the old farm on Kingsbury Road. She was luminous in a way that only fifteen year old girls can be. She certainly brought a little sunshine to Hillside Farm.
That time would end and she would continue her journey to womanhood. Some years later Vanessa and I would run into Sarah in California with Carlos, the man who would be her husband and the father of her two children. Another generational family saga was beginning.
I was not behind the curtain of Sarah and Carlos’ life but Vanessa’s clan is strong on family ties so if I kept my ears open around the house I could tune into their collective evolution. As a much older guy it thrills me to see lives being built, and Sarah and Carlos built quite a life.
Saturday the 24th of this 6th month of June, 2023 I was to play at One Longfellow Square in Portland, Maine. Vanessa’s older sister Robin showed up backstage before the show as I expected she would. What I did not expect was Robin’s first words. ‘Sarah just died.’ In that moment it was impossible to wrap my head around. I don’t think I could really hear what had just been said. It had been some time since a saw Sarah but at this point in my life time compresses itself and it seemed like yesterday.
She was at the gym and a massive brain aneurism put a sudden finale to that story. Of course, as an organ donor in the end Sarah was able to pass life on to others. She was that kind of person.
The tragedy of losing a mother, a sister, a wife… a friend is always truly unthinkable yet there are no options on this plane we are allowed to choose. We get what we are given.
This morning she will be finally allowed to sleep.
In my memory she will always be fifteen… the way she was that summer of 1994.
Fair winds and following seas little sister.