The Rabbit

We’ve never seen a rabbit in our yard. I’ve seen opossums before. Even a family of raccoons. But never a rabbit. We’ve lived in this house for three years and none of us have ever seen a rabbit. But that changed on Friday morning when Toby Joe looked outside and said, “There’s a rabbit in our front yard. I hope Bella doesn’t scare it.”

She didn’t. The rabbit wandered off on its own.

I don’t go to many live shows anymore. But there are two bands that still bring me out of the house: The Mountain Goats and Frightened Rabbit.

I’m 44-years-old, I have three kids and so not much can drag me out of the house. I don’t know when that happened or why. It’s almost like I gave up at some point. Or maybe I just can’t be bothered with public transportation or traffic. It’s probably that. Also, there’s the whole getting up early after getting home late. Kids don’t give a shit if you wanna sleep in after getting home at 2 AM. They still want their pancakes. They still need to make it to school on time. You can’t call the absentee line and say, “Junior will be late this morning because his mamma was at a live music show until 2 AM reliving her youth. She had a blast, by the way. Byeeeee!”

I used to go to live shows all the time. I used to drive 4 hours both ways in one night to see a live show. I used to drive 8 hours just to see a single, 60-minute set. Incidentally, this equation sorta reminds me of that Shel Silverstein poem where the kid gives up a dollar for two quarters and then gives up two quarters for three dimes because each time he makes a move he feels like he’s gaining something and I mean who are we to judge as grownups? Money is a made up concept anyway. If the kid feels good because he has THREE shiny things instead of one piece of paper, who gives a shit? Let him make the trade, go through the effort and feel good about it even if the payoff from an outsider’s standpoint seems less fruitful than the payout.

So, maybe driving 8 hours to see a 60-minute show wasn’t that stupid after all.

(Wow, I think I just gave myself therapy.)

Last Friday, I had just parked the car and was standing outside my son’s elementary school when my phone buzzed. It was my older brother from Alabama. He and I text often, but not at 10 AM on a Friday. So I decided to stop what I was doing and see what was up.

I read this:

“The lead singer of Frightened Rabbit has died.”

“Suicide”

I knew he’d been missing and that his brother had been looking for him, but I didn’t expect this. This was… awful.

I’m not sure what happened next. Something in my brain popped. Because my knees buckled and I began to lose it right there outside of my son’s elementary school, in front of the other mothers also coming to drop off Friday Teacher Appreciation gifts. Some of them looked my way, wondering if they should help. Help with what? I wasn’t even sure what was happening.

I had to get my shit together. So I walked back to the car and sobbed. Uncontrollably.

I didn’t know Scott Hutchison. So when I got home, still crying, I’m pretty sure Toby initially thought someone we knew had died. So when I told him it was the lead singer of Frightened Rabbit, I immediately felt disingenuous, so utterly ridiculous for my reaction.

You didn’t even know him. You never even met him. What the fuck is wrong with you, Michele? 

Scott Hutchison suffered from depression. As was evident in his lyrics. He didn’t hide this. And I am absolutely certain this is why their music was so damn earnest. Like Jason Molina, he wrote music as though he had to in order to survive and I believe we all benefited from this survival tactic. He often brought tears to my eyes, many times in public in front of strangers. (Usually on a train or a bus, most recently I cried on Sunday crossing the finish line at a NYRR race.) If only people knew what they were missing.

Frightened Rabbit made me feel less alone in this otherwise lonely world, like the battles I fight aren’t only my own. (Holy hell, writing that down, and then reading it back to myself, it sounds so trite. But I mean it. I really do.)

Somehow the world was safer, funnier, livelier and much more comforting with Scott Hutchison in it. If he could do it, if he could survive the greys, couldn’t we all as well?

Fuck depression.

No, I didn’t know Scott Hutchison. But I sure do know his music. I know it like I know the tinnitus in my ears. I know it like birdsong. I know it like I need it in order to survive the greys.

I never got to shake his hand and thank him for all the miles he saw me along, all the grey pavement his voice colored as I tried to outrun my own demons while training for a marathon. I never thanked him for the songs he wrote about self-medicating with alcohol (something I know a little bit about) or about dealing with depression. I never thanked him for all the times his songs comforted me back in 2009, one of the darkest years of my life. I never told him he made me laugh out loud on numerous occasions on Instagram. I never thanked him for helping me perfect my Scottish accent, the same accent my eldest son is so embarrassed by, that every time I do it, he’ll immediately leave the room.

There was a rabbit in our yard last Friday morning. This holds no meaning whatsoever other than the fact that we had a rabbit in our yard last Friday morning. It just happened to show up on the very same day my brother texted me letting me know that the lead singer of Frightened Rabbit was found dead of apparent suicide.

But I need to come up with parallels because life makes absolutely no sense most of the time and I’m feeling emotional these days, raw like an exposed nerve. I also feel a whole lotta sadness right now.

And if I were to be totally honest, I really hope the rabbit comes back. I keep hoping I’ll get to see the rabbit again.

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