And then news of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death came in. Shock. Sadness. Anger. Wishing what I was hearing was wrong. A mistake. A bad joke.
And yet… I knew it wasn’t. I knew he had fought drug and alcohol abuse for years. I knew he had found sobriety. I knew he had lost sobriety. I knew he was dead.
I have sat in countless rooms, countless meetings, hearing the stories of walking miracles. People who have come from truly the depths of hell, complete and utter demoralization and hopelessness and found their way out. Like swimming from the darkest, coldest, bottom. Kicking and blowing bubbles out your nose. Heart racing until you make your way to the surface, gasp for air, feel the sky waiting for you above, and fall back in the calm water with relief, exhaustion, elation.
And then… some sink back down and never get out again.
My heart breaks for Philip Seymour Hoffman’s family, friends, fans. We are only left with his amazing work and the message that addiction, if untreated, kills.
It’s strange, when I was going to write about my daughter’s first concert experience I was planning on starting by comparing it to my first concert. I was 12 years old, just like my girl, and dropped off with my friends at Royce Hall on the UCLA campus to see Oingo Boingo.
I was drunk on Peppermint Schnapps, high on bowl loads of pot and carrying a stolen pack of cigarettes in my Camp Beverly Hills jacket. I remember dancing up and down for 2 hours like I was on a pogo stick and throwing up later that night. 12 years old…
That was my first concert.
So, here I was last Wednesday night taking my 12 year old daughter to her first concert. Years earlier she had been invited to see Justin Beiber — front row, backstage passes, the works — and she passed because she didn’t want Justin Bieber to be her first concert.
Gotta love that. I don’t remember thinking at the time I was 12 that I would forever have to say Oingo Boingo was my first concert. My second was Joe Jackson — way cooler. But, I still got drunk on Peppermint Schnapps and stoned on two huge joints and threw up after in the parking lot.
Pink would be my girl’s first and I couldn’t have been prouder to purchase those tickets and stick them on the refrigerator. As we drove to Anaheim I took in how completely different the scene was already. For starters, it was just us — mommy and daughter. No friends, no drop offs, no stolen cigarettes.
A sober mom and a child who has never had a sip of alcohol let alone seen a bong. She was doing her homework in the backseat on the drive. Homework, people!
The concert was amazing. Holding my daughter’s hand, I watched it all through her eyes. Hearing her sing along and scream and applaud and look at me like,
This is it, mama!! This is really it!
We bought t-shirts and we didn’t sit once. We danced and sang and celebrated music.
Sober. Present. Floating on the surface of the water.
We held hands as we walked to the car, buzzing in our ears, our voices hoarse. No one throwing up.
Mama, thank you. That was the best first concert ever.
For me too, baby. For me too.
I’m alive. The sky above me.
Rest in peace, Philip.