I sent the mastered disc off for duplication on February 7th, 2003.
Three days later, my father had a fatal heart attack and died.
His death was not entirely unexpected but it was still a shock, as it meant I was now officially out of parents (my mother had died in 1996).
The finished CDs arrived three weeks later. 500 of them, because it was my first album and I'd felt wildly optimistic at the time. (I know better now.)
The stacked cartons sat for another week while I continued to zombie-walk through my grief, until I finally gathered the strength to unpack them and begin wrapping them for shipping to those who had pre-purchased them. It felt rather anti-climactic at the time, but it had to be done.
And now, it's late December 2019.
On Monday, my partner and I will travel to California to be with family, surrounding my father-in-law with love as he begins hospice care at home. Formerly a robust, strong man -- he played golf, walking the course and carrying his clubs well into his seventies -- he had been diagnosed three years ago with cancer. In the last year or so, his health had begun to decline more quickly and noticeably, affecting his posture, his gait and his overall energy. When we visited them during Thanksgiving week only a month ago, my father-in-law enjoyed what was probably his final outing in a car, watching a movie with all of us at the local cinema.
The night before we left to return home, he stood with my health, to transfer from his recliner to a seat at the dining room table for dinner. I could see over his head, and not only because of how badly he stooped.
My formerly 5' 10" father-in-law had lost a good three inches of height, and with the additional stoop he was now shorter than me.
Two days ago, only a few days after I'd arrived home from the URJ Biennial, we got the news that things had changed again, and that Roger's condition was rapidly worsening. The cancer had metastasized and was now evident throughout his bones, beyond meaningful treatment; he had elected palliative care and home hospice care at home for as long as it would be medically possible. And so everything has changed. Plans have been made, flights have been booked and on Monday we'll head back to California to be with family, this time to wrap Roger in a warm embrace of love. Now that I am an old hand at this, I can be present for my Sweetie, who is facing the loss of a parent for the first time.
And meanwhile, another box of finished CDs has arrived at my doorstep today. It's a much smaller, single package -- I chose to make fewer physical CDs and I created the packaging DIY-style, without the help of a commercial printer -- and it's sitting on the dining room table.
So am I facing another professional anti-climax?
Not at all. Not this time. My perspective has shifted, in large part because of the people I've known and loved since I recorded my first album seventeen years ago (December 2002). This afternoon, as I stuffed CDs into black envelopes that I'd already applied labels to in advance, I felt at peace. I was sad at what would be ahead for all of us, but in the end it was all okay, and everything was the way it should be. I was briefly sorry to have to cancel my Portland release party, but as soon as I'd found a friend to take the slot with his band, cleared it with the pub owner and announced it online, I felt no further regret at all.
My father-in-law -- my father-in-love -- is embarking on the final stage of his life. I need to be there, of course. But more importantly, I want to be there. This is what children do for their parents. It's what friends do for each other. It's what people who love each other do. It's part of life, a necessary and ultimately good part of life. And I am grateful to be involved and included in this circle of love and life.
To those of you who have reached out with messages and calls of reassurance and love, thank you so much.
I'm wishing all of you a Happy Chanukah, a Blessed Yule, a Merry Christmas and a new year filled with light, love and peace.