“Say Hello 2 Heaven”

Yesterday started just like any other. I threw an outfit together, brushed my teeth, walked my dog, then headed out the door to endure my lovely 40 minute drive to work. As soon as I cranked the car and began listening to my usual morning show, Rod Ryan Show on 94.5 The Buzz, I then realized it wasn’t “just another day.”

Chris Cornell’s recognizable, golden voice started singing a cover of “Nothing Compares 2 U.” I kept thinking to myself, “Damn, this is a really good cover. I might actually start crying. But it’s kind of sad. Why are they playing this at 7:30 in the morning?”

When the song concluded, the words from the radio host seemed to blur together, like when someone is telling you bad news and you just… zone out. I instinctively knew they were going to announce the death of Chris Cornell. It wasn’t until they actually said it that my mouth dropped open…

One of my first posts talks about the grunge music that bloomed out of Seattle. I specifically mention Temple of the Dog’s “Hunger Strike” and how it made me appreciate my life more. I even quote Cornell’s perspective on the lyrics.

Upon returning to Texas, nostalgia resonated within me. I listened to a decent portion of my personal 90’s playlist on the plane. Later that evening once we had been home (and had a few margaritas), I blared “Hunger Strike” by Temple of the Dog in our bedroom. It just seemed like a natural thing to do: to feel free, sing the lyrics, hold my love, and enjoy the moment.

The song was written in honor of Chris Cornell’s friend, Andrew Wood (singer of Mother Love Bone), who died from a heroin overdose. Cornell says, “I was wanting to express the gratitude for my life but also disdain for people where that’s not enough, where they want more” (Crowe). I understood that concept in the moments of being home. I felt like I fell into that category, especially in the last several months. I had taken so many things, especially my life, for granted. I thought going to Seattle would cure my woes of the daily grind. And it did for the few days we were there. I wasn’t stressed or worried about work, working out, expectations, or anything. Instead, I was able to breathe the fresh air and involuntarily smile.

It’s disheartening to look back on those words now, knowing Cornell is no longer with us.  And the irony is that song makes me feel alive during my lowest moments. I can relate to Cornell, as I have dealt with depression for nearly half of my life. Only in the last year or so have I actually taken steps to become healthy. A pill doesn’t always work. Sometimes, our hearts and our minds overwhelm us to the point where we feel like we have no other option of escaping whatever type of pain we are feeling. And it is the most unfortunate, darkest last resort…

“And whenever I’ve been in any kind of depression, I’ve over the years tried to not only imagine what it feels like to not be there, but try to remind myself that I could just wake up the next day and it could be gone because that happens, and not to worry about it. And at the same time, when I’m feeling great, I remember the depression and think about the differences in what I’m feeling and why I would feel that way, and not be reactionary one way or the other. You just have to realize that these are patterns of life and you just go through them.” – What Chris Cornell Has Said About Depression and Addiction

I wrote to the Rod Ryan Show after hearing the news and discussion of Cornell’s death possibly being ruled as a suicide. They had asked people to e-mail and share their stories. Although I didn’t particularly have a concert story about Cornell, I did have some other insight to share:

…I had a friend who committed suicide when I was in high school… it’s an extremely tough issue to deal with from any perspective. The only thing that got me through was remembering the good things and times about that person. I learned to not blame myself. Therefore, it is up to us, the listeners, the fans, the artists, friends [and] family to listen to Cornell’s voice and he will continue to live on in the incredible art he created as well as the memories he is associated with…

We can’t blame ourselves or anyone else. Now is not the time to point the finger. Depression is a powerful, elusive beast. What we can do, though, is relish in the art Cornell has left behind, and offer our help to others who may be suffering from mental illness and/or suicidal thoughts.

Please contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline if you or someone you know needs help (1-800-273-8255).

“He hurt so bad like a soul breaking
But he never said nothing to me
So say hello to heaven”

Rest in peace, Chris…

-K