Motherhood & Words

on Prince and seizing the moment

When I heard the news of Prince’s death, I, like so many others, burst into tears. For the rest of the day, I listened to The Current, flipped between Twitter and Facebook, and even turned on the local television news, stalking every new bit of information, wishing somehow it was all a mistake. Memories of listening and dancing to Prince flooded my mind: “Kiss” cranked up on a boom box in high school; my college roommate and I “going crazy” in our apartment despite the cranky old lady downstairs; me lying alone in my room belting out “Nothing Compares 2 U” (the fabulous live version with Rosie Gaines). Prince was the soundtrack of my life, his songs the ones I always came back to.

That day, I couldn’t focus on anything. I just didn’t feel right in my skin. It was too soon. He was too young. Also, I was disappointed in myself. I live in Minnesota. I grew up here. In my twenties I spent countless nights at First Avenue. Yet, I never saw Prince live. I never went out to Paisley Park for one of his late-night concerts. I wanted to, but I didn’t. I thought there would be plenty of time. And now he’s gone. And I’d missed my chance.

The Thursday he died was complicated at our house—there was evening soccer practice and Donny had work to do and Zoë had a friend over and we were leaving town the next day. I cancelled out on two commitments I had early that evening. I couldn’t imagine doing anything, even if our night hadn’t become so discombobulated. But then I heard about the gathering downtown Minneapolis in front of First Avenue, and I knew I had to go. I had to act on my desire instead of waiting. When Donny got home with Stella, I said, “I just need to be with people who loved his music.” He said, “Go!” and dropped me at the train station.

I made my way through the crowd toward Prince’s music blaring from loudspeakers and toward my friends, who were somewhere in the mix. When I found them, we stood together with thousands of others who were sideswiped by his death. Prince’s music and his spirit and our collective grief and love permeated the air. And it was exactly what I needed to do, exactly where I needed to be.

I still can’t believe he’s dead. But in the last two weeks the thing that I keep coming back to (other than his music, which I cannot stop playing) are two things: there is no time to wait—you have to seize it (whatever it is for you) now; and, cherish those you love every day. It all sounds so clichéd, I know. I’ve heard those words spouted thousands of times. But somehow right now I’m really feeling them. It’s because Prince, yes, and others too. Right now my conversations and Facebook feed are full of deaths—some after long, happy lives, but many not. It’s a constant reminder that we can’t know what will happen or when.

So I am taking more time to hug my girls, to unplug from my computer, to cuddle. And when I was sitting on the porch with Zoë the other day staring at the peeling paint that has made me crazy for a year, I thought—now! So I got up and scrounged around in the basement until I found the right leftover paint. First the trim, yesterday the floor. The porch looks like new and I wonder why I waited so long.

Prince was many things to many people, here in Minnesota and around the world. I will continue to celebrate his brilliance and crank the tunes. I will continue to dance and belt them out. And as I do so, I’ll remind myself each day not to take any of this beautiful messy life for granted.

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I have been teaching creative writing for almost twenty years. Reading about other women’s lives and experiences has expanded my world. To be able to walk in someone else’s shoes, whether it’s for a moment or an hour or a few days, is an incredible gift, providing me with insight into the human experience. It takes courage to write your truths, especially if it doesn’t seem as though anyone cares, as though anyone is listening. Let me tell you: your stories matter, I’m listening, and I’m here to help you find the heart of those truths, to get them down on the page, to craft them, and to send them out into the world. Together, we will change the world, one story at a time.


  1. Sarah on May 6, 2016 at 8:25 pm

    Beautiful, Kate.

    • Kate on May 8, 2016 at 4:34 pm

      Thank you, Sarah!

  2. Jennifer on May 6, 2016 at 11:21 pm

    Sometimes it takes a tragedy to shakes us awake…enjoy those moments.

    • Kate on May 8, 2016 at 4:34 pm

      I will, Jennifer! Thank you!

  3. Sue LeBreton on May 7, 2016 at 12:48 am

    These events do remind us to not take any moment for granted. I wonder if celebrity loss allows us to see it more as the grief is more superficial-when we lose a close loved one we are mired in grief for so long. Let us embrace the delicacy of life whatever nudges us to do so! Xx

    • Kate on May 8, 2016 at 4:36 pm

      I think that’s such a good point, Sue. Because of course I had no idea who he was a person so I’m not mourning a personal relationship. So their is space to grieve and contemplate in a way there wouldn’t be if I was floored by grief. Here is to embracing the delicacy of life! xox

  4. Angie on May 8, 2016 at 5:14 am

    I’m so glad you seized those moments, reminding us that the opportunities are there for all of us to do the same. It can be big like hopping on a train to celebrate the life of Prince, or as simple as grabbing a paintbrush. Beautiful.

    • Kate on May 8, 2016 at 4:37 pm

      Yes, exactly, Angie! Or now a bass guitar! Whoop!