It struck me harder and with more reaction than the death of my father 10 years later. I was 24, living in an apartment inside the stadium at Southern Methodist university. I lived with my brother and cousin who worked for the athletic department. I was working for Coca-Cola while writing and studying acting. I had just signed with the foremost acting coach in town with students including Kathy Bates. I had just purchased a piano and was writing music with great pleasure and inspiration. I had also just completed an in depth study of Jack Kerouack.
After a rewarding day at work, which at this time was the rule, due to my spiritual contentment, my cousin met me at the door. “Did you hear?” He asked with a look expecting a horrid response. “What?” I asked innocently. “Harry Chapin was killed today”, was his sympathetic reply. He was and is my favorite cousin and really understood the extent of my admiration, dedication, enjoyment, and love for Harry.
Well of course I was shocked and responded as I thought I might when the inevitable news came of a loved ones death, which had in my life time had never come. Not a close friend, not a relative. I was a virgin to death. Uncomfortable curiosity posed the usual questions. Then denial. Then acceptance as life was going too good, and I had committed too many sins and needed to suffer, and I did, God did I suffer.
The story continues and still after oh those many years, I still do. On The Road Because There Was Only One Choice was the offspring of my grief, growth, continuation of a truly livable life. I wish I hadn’t destroyed the manuscript. All who read it loved it. My pride of accomplishment disgusted me. Yet my whole life, that being my quest, I was revolted and in one of few noble gestures I destroyed it. The story of the time between then and there and now is great therapy. Harry would want me tell it. Perhaps I will.
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