Be gentle with yourself ...

I was saddened this week to hear of the untimely death of Dolores O'Riordan, lead singer with the Irish band the Cranberries. O'Riordan had one of the most memorable, lilting, and haunting voices in popular music. I was introduced to her music when our kids were teens in the 1990s. Still on my "A List" of music are the tracks "Linger," "Zombie," and "Ode to my family."
For some reason, O'Riordan's passing caused pause for thought more than other "celebrity" deaths. I listened again to the Cranberries, and her solo albums. On my newly finished guitar, I played along to— and recorded for fun— the recently released acoustic version of Zombie. (The Cranberries Something Else, 2017). I knew a little about her, but read more. Like many rock stars she had a full, yet troubled, life. O'Riordan was raised Roman Catholic from very humbled roots in Limerick, finding her voice and joining the band in her late teens. The band found fame, toured the world, broke up, reformed, broke up, and reformed. She married in her early 20s, had three kids, divorced 20 years later. I discovered that she struggled terribly with depression. She revealed that she had been sexually abused for a number of years starting at age eight by someone she trusted. She confessed to self-harm and self-loathing because of the abuse. A few years ago she was formally diagnosed as bi-polar. The cause of her death is not yet known, but is thought not to be suspicious. Apparently, she had been doing well over the last couple of years. Because of her music, Dolores O'Riordan will be remembered as an exceptional talent who brought joy to millions (myself included). Her songs speak of her life, and our lives, in their complexity. To quote Albus Dumbledore, "Ah, music, a magic beyond all we do here." After the Warrington bombing by the IRA in 1993 when two children were killed, the Cranberries released Zombie, still one of the most powerful anti-war, anti-hate songs ever written.

I wondered this week why O'Riordan's death played on my mind so much. I think it was this: Peel away the celebrity status and you have a quite ordinary person who, like all of us, struggle with life's ups and downs—the love of family and good friends, the joy of kids, highlights of career, solace in religious faith, but also the death of close loved ones, inexplicable fears, depression, and memories that come back to haunt us. Sadly, too many have battled with sexual abuse and its after effects—listen to the "me too" movement. In O'Riordan's case her, more or less, ordinary life has ended unexpectedly, and all too soon.
So it left me with this. Because of life's ups and downs, and unpredictability, and all the stuff that has happened to us, and that we have caused to happen in others' lives: today be gentle with yourself and those you love. You just never know ...
+Ab. Andy

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