Warning.  This is a bit of a Kurt Cobain cliche I am going to lead with.  Chris Cornell committed suicide at age 52, leaving behind a wife and 3 kids and an insanely successful musical career.

I liked Soundgarden and Audioslave ok enough.  Soundgarden was a major backdrop to high school and college as my musically formative years happened around Grunge and the Seattle scene.  “Singles” was my favorite movie at the time and no one knew Eddie Vedder when he acted in it briefly.  I did but I am a music snob.  I had the Nirvana album LONG before anyone else had heard “Smells Like Teen Spirit” because they were being played on Framingham State college radio which was on my station rotation at the time.

Boys liked Chris Cornell because he rocked.  Girls liked Chris Cornell because he was beautiful.  I didn’t care for the long hair.  I perked up when he cut it short right around Spoonman time and I could see his eyes.  I bought that tape and cranked it in my mom’s Caravan cassette player when I got to borrow the car on college breaks.  Big fan of the song Superunknown.  I way overplayed that one while everyone else was listening to Black Hole Sun.

What really stood out to me was this man’s talent.  His voice really is phenomenal with multiple ranges.  Not only that, he has been writing lyrics for over 30 years…in prolific fashion while having dozens of hits.  He has battled depression, alcoholism, the recession of grunge and  managed to be a talent that has evolved with music and remained highly, highly relevant.  Whether you enjoy his music or not, he is a talent worth respecting.  Other musicians seek him out.

Kurt Cobain offed himself and people were holding vigils, crying for days.  I was sad but it wasn’t a surprise to me.  Lane Staley of Alice In Chains, even sadder to me for some reason.  Major talent but writing was on the wall there too.  It so often is with young artists dealing with emotional turmoil, drugs and the wild life style.  You just sort of know to brace yourself for it.

What you don’t brace yourself for is the 52 year old family man who rode 30 years of the industry wave and survived it.  The rocker who lost a marriage, went to rehab and wrote some of his best work sober and got married again…raised a family.  You figure there could be a younger death because of substance abuse and past hard living but you don’t expect suicide.  You sort of think a person like that is on the other side of it.

Mental illness…depression, anxiety, substance abuse…all of the above.  They are diseases.  Lifelong, incurable diseases that can kill you at any time because the “reasoning” a diabetic or cancer patient has to take his/her meds, go to their appointments is a reasoning people with mental illness don’t get to have.  Your illness overrides your rationale and you are able to attack yourself and not know when to stop.  A moment in time to someone else is the moment you decide to end your life.  A wave you can’t ride out.

I have been so deeply affected by this death today – not in a lost icon sort of way but in a human to human way.  I got your disease too, Cornell, and you are vastly more successful and financially stable than I will ever be.  You found love twice.   You had just successfully performed your art hours before.  And you still hung yourself in a hotel bathroom.  That was your stroke, your fatal heart attack, your lost cancer fight.  Your illness killed you.  People think you had a choice but you didn’t.  You didn’t have reason at your side because that illness or combo of illnesses takes away from you what everyone else can reason through in their lives.

You scare the shit out of me.  I still have crappy days and experiences but I feel more controlled and optimistic than I ever have.  I can even dare to say that happy is my default a lot lately.  I am still sarcastic, skeptical, having nightmares on the regular, and  scared to death of America right now but it’s proportioned.  I just plain feel good.  I feel like I have the tools I need right now.  I bet you had felt like that sometimes too.

Back to the realization I am only one failed prescription away, another traumatic event away from the disease gaining hold and erasing my reason.  We all are and it’s frightening.

I watched a video today of you singing “Redemption Song” with your daughter.  It was surreal, the talent she has and the proud dad moment you had with your kid.  You would never choose to inflict pain on her.  I am sure you believed she is better off without you.  She so totally isn’t and never will be but it had to be what you believed.  And that is tragic.  I feel deep empathy for your family and what they have lost.  You weren’t Soundgarden to them.  You were their person.  You were a person with a disease so many other people have but so many people judge and disregard.

If you can’t make it after all you have accomplished, what does that say for the rest of us?

I feel like I lost someone I know, not because of your fame or music but because we share a disease.  It’s a grief from one mental illness sufferer to another where I am just so desperately, shakingly, achingly sorry that you lost your battle.  If there is a God, I hope you find peace.  I hope your family gets the support they need.  I hope they know they were loved and in your twisted mental illness, you probably thought this was the greatest gift of love you could bestow on them.  I get it.  Man, I am just so sorry you lost your fight.  You were simply beautiful all around.  Peace….I hope.