Thirteen years ago today, acclaimed musician Jeff Healey passed away.
On that day, we lost our friend, husband, father, brother, son…
It certainly wasn’t supposed to be this way. He was far too young. Only 41. So much more to do.
As has been repeated ad nauseam throughout the years, Jeff was a fighter. He took the cancer diagnosis head on and leaned in. Unwavering. Each treatment was taken in stride. He bounced back from every surgery with what seemed like astonishing speed.
His death left those of us close to him stunned.
We mourned and each of us tried to come to terms in our own way. But it was difficult to process the grief in those first few days, when every newspaper, TV channel and radio station we turned to was broadcasting his image, replaying his voice.
Quickly we realized that we shared the “public Jeff” with many, many fans and supporters around the world. They mourned too.
After a few enthusiastic discussions, a dozen of us dove headfirst into planning and producing a Memorial Concert. Initially, the thought was to give the fans a public event to pay their respects. Quickly though, it seemed to also become a form of group therapy for all of us as we poured our hearts into the daunting project. We shared stories and memories, worked together to solve problems and fought hard to create a fitting send off for Jeff.
In the end, with the help of countless volunteers and dozens of amazing performers – Canadian and international, we produced a wonderful two day tribute. The first night celebrated Jeff’s Rock and Blues career and the second, his unending love for Traditional Jazz. The entire process was bittersweet, yet oh so worthwhile. But that as they say, is another story, for another day… (For more info, click HERE.)
As the weeks wore on, a curious thing happened. The sadness gave way ever so slightly to a sense of celebration. Celebration of a life lived. Of a legacy built. Of a soul that had shined brightly, albeit briefly.
It is a celebration that has continued to gain momentum even as the years have worn on. All of you, out there… your comments, reactions, shared photos and videos, memories, art… You are the fuel that keeps all of this going, and we are eternally grateful for all the support and love you share with us.
It doesn’t take away the sadness, but it helps to brighten the void of loss.
Thirteen years ago today.
Be good to each other folks.