Today I had my first chance to look back over the last few days and reflect. I think that I (and possibly the band) will start blogging our feelings and giving you updates as we move through this difficult time. (Warning, this post is stupidly long)
I keep thinking of ways to honor Chase. Every time I look ahead to the next day, my mind floods of things that we have to do to honor his memory. It started on thursday, as we began canceling shows and thinking about what Chase would have wanted us to do. He would have wanted us to keep playing. Keep doing what we spent so much time doing. So, we decided to say yes to a couple of select shows. Thursday night the core group gathered together and forced ourselves to laugh to keep ourselves from crying. We toasted to his life and to the 100's of stories that made him such a special person.
Friday, we gathered ourselves together and began speaking to the media. We sat in front of camera and did our best to honor and speak to the person that he was and is. We sat in the same place where we all met Chase. The memories of that building, the heaviness in that room. Even still, we were able to laugh. We laughed and we cried and we held ourselves together the best we could. Words flowing from our mouths, not sure how each word would effect our emotions. We then sat outside of a coffee shop, speaking to the same writer who interviewed our band just a couple of months before. Brian is a friend and a fantastic writer. We told some of the same stories, thought of some new memories. We Laughed and we cried again. As someone who is used to being interviewed about myself and my band, it felt very comforting to just be able to take a breath and talk about a friend, with friends, to a friend. Two blocks away sat the stage where we were supposed to play just hours later. It was raining, but I don't think anyone cared. A couple of hours later we met with some friends and musicians who were slated to play right after us. We shared more stories, more laughs and more tears. We raised a shot of tequila and shouted "Let's Go!", a common phrase Chase used to say, Usually before doing something exciting. That night it was more laughs, more tears, more toasts.
Most of Saturday flew by. Tyler and I played an early afternoon set with our other band Wilderness. When I'm onstage, it's the only time that my brain is able to shutdown. I was only left with my emotions as all of the responsibilities emptied my head. It was absolutely the hardest set of my life. We talked about making a T-shirt with the image of Chase's hair and beard. Tyler and I's cousin drew a quick sketch after hearing the news and we instantly fell in love with it. we knew that as many people had to see it as possible. We talked about making a short band announcement, just to say thank you for all of the support and to let people know what our immediate future was. We met up with some of Chase's cousins and family who had arrived that day. We had a wild and wonderful weekend with them during his brother Hudson's wedding, embracing us like family. So it was no surprise when they physically embraced us, understanding that we felt as much pain and sadness as them. More Laughter, more tears. We all made our way to a concert downtown. Many of the cousins piling in to Lt. Van, seemingly starstruck at the hunk of junk that we had recently purchased. The concert was turned into a benefit show for Chase's family. The bands on the bill were a lot the musicians he was most connected with and close to. We hugged and laughed and cried with the 40+ musicians who came out to say hello and offer their condolences. Uncle Indi bought the entire bar a round and we toasted Chase once again. The bands were able to raise $660, such a huge success. So much love in every dollar. After the show, we met up at a home, we laughed until we cried and visa versa. More toasts.
Sunday we gathered ourselves together and went to church. The majority of all the family members were there. The service felt bittersweet. Some parts were inspiring, other parts were sad and even frustrating. That's just how it goes sometimes. Everything can't be exactly what you need at the moment. Considering the heaviness and difficulty of that time, I can't imagine how hard it would have been to put a service together so suddenly. Regardless we were happy to be together, to be with family, to be close to the people who mattered. The rest of the day was very low key. Did some Father's Day stuff. Hung out, chatted about other normal things for the first time since thursday. Fell asleep watching Jurassic Park. (Most importantly, getting a good nights sleep for the first time).
Monday morning was met with a sense of stress and heaviness. Tyler and I had asked to speak at Chase's memorial service and tonight was the night. Tyler went his own way to write his speech, Kate and I worked on mine. By the time we finished, it was time to get a bite and head to the church. Tyler, Brandon and I agreed to play a couple of worship songs for the service. So we got there early to practice. It has been a few years since we last performed on that stage. It felt good and sad and empty and full and a thousand other things all at once. It was good to be playing music with Tyler and Brandon, even if it was just for 2 songs. The service began and I was asked to speak first. I clutched paper and the microphone as I waited to go on stage. I'm usually very comfortable on stage behind a drum set, but when you're about to speak in front of 1,000 people, it's a different story. I was thinking about what Chase would have wanted, how he would have wanted everyone to laugh and have a great time. So that's what I planned on doing. I held Kate's hand, she was a mess of tears. I approached the stage and took one last deep breath. I barely remember what I said, but the constant roaring laughter and the faces of Steve and Susanne right below me let me know that I had done exactly as Chase would have wanted. I swapped the mic with Tyler and he did an exceptional job. More roaring laughter, more tears. Speaking the stories that meant the most to him. The entire service was the maximum version of what we had done all weekend. Laughed until we cried, cried until we laughed. Our heart so full and empty at the same time. The service was over 90 minutes, but it felt like 10. We must have hugged 100 people that night. The hugs met with heavy smiles as we knew how tough it was for each person. After the service, we got to spend some much needed and very special time with Steve and Susanne. Telling them stories about their son that we hadn't been able to do.
That night our laughter outnumbered our tears 100-1.
Tuesday morning some of the family had left. Some had to work. We were getting tattoos... Thanks to a cancelation, Tyler, Kate, Brandon and myself were able to get in all at once and get some ink. Each of us got the same one. That Iconic hair and beard.
Tuesday night was something new for us. Tyler, Brandon and I went up to our practice space, set up the gear and played most of our set that we are planning for friday. There were a couple of songs that we couldn't quite bring ourselves to play. We talked a little bit about our future and how the band can honor Chase's memory moving forward. Making very loose plans, talking through the reality of our situation.
Here I am now, wednesday afternoon. I spent all morning working on music stuff. Working through the logistics of our show friday, planning the memorial show for July 2nd, sending a lot of FB messages and texts. Sitting here just thinking about new ways to honor his memory. New ways to spread the love that he shared with us and new ways let everyone know the mountain of a person that was and is Chase Mickel.