Momento mori

Momento mori


A flicker of light.

Driven by the fear of losing my mind, I light one more match. And then another. I got to do it now, before I stand there fumbling with the matchbook without knowing what it’s for.

A flicker of light. Fifty-three days.

I strike two matches at once, shining a light into the darkest corners of my soul. There, covered in shame and anger, is the remnant of my mother’s depression. And over there, right before the match goes out, I catch a glimpse of my father’s desperate loneliness.

A flicker of light. That’s all we are, all we have. Driven by the fear of losing my mind, I need to illuminate the now, explore every crevasse of the here. Because now you see me. And then you don’t.

I saw Prince every time he came to town — whatever the monetary cost and whatever other plans I had to drop to score the tickets. Because if watching my mother lose herself in the fog of Alzheimer’s decease taught me one thing, it was to never postpone the stuff that really matters: the love, the arts, the human connections.

Musicians touch our lives in a different way than actors, sports stars or writers do. Their art becomes a background theme in our lives, a soundtrack to our moments of love, loss, hope and despair. Whether it’s a wedding or a funeral, there’s always music.

It feels weird to mourn a person whom I’ve never met, whom I’ve never talked to and who has never looked into my eyes. But the truth is that while I never knew Prince, he helped me to get to know myself.

So I do not only mourn the loss of a great artistic talent and all the songs that will never be written. I mourn the loss of the person that was me when Prince first came into my life. I grieve the young Swede who wanted to become a dancer; I cry for that slim and sensitive boy who never felt safe and never allowed himself to be held; I weep for that innocent soul who would find a brief moment of peace while joining Prince on his musical journey. 

But while I am terrified that I am now at the age where people of my own generation are dropping dead, I also find joy and fulfillment in having taken every possible opportunity to create memories with my musical hero.

Our existence is a mere flicker of light.

Imagine you knew you had only fifty-three days left to live.

What would you do? Who would you spend them with?

I last saw Prince in February when he was playing his piano at the Paramount Theatre in Oakland. Fifty-three days later he was dead.

What are you waiting for? Light your matches.