I don’t even know what to say. Or what to think. I’ve been in shock since Thursday. When I saw the news about Prince passing, I couldn’t even process it. It had to be a hoax, a lie, a mistake. Prince was forever, man.

I texted my sister about it. It’s a reflex to text my sister whenever anything happens in pop culture because we connect there, but this was deeper than that. I needed to make sure someone else had read what I read. She confirmed she’d seen it too and we were both too blown away to continue the conversation for a while.

When Lemmy died late last year I thought “Jesus, he made it to 69? Well done Lemmy”. Because, really, who among us who thought about Lemmy thought he’d live that long? Lemmy felt like that Uncle Mitch that everyone seems to have, he drives an El Dorado, smokes too much and spends a lot of time in garages working on people’s cars. I was sad but his death made some sense in the context of his lifestyle.

Then it was Bowie. That felt like my favorite professor died. Someone that I learned a whole lot from and found endlessly fascinating. A genius and an innovator. I’d never known a world without Bowie and he was Starman to me, out in the cosmos being amazing, but always out there, above me. Unlike Lemmy, it feels like he was gone too soon, and I felt the sadness surround me.

Now, this?

Ugh. Did I already say that?

Prince felt like my best friend from junior high. The one you had the super intense friendship with, you were together everyday afterschool and most of the weekends. The one that was a bit androgynous, your mom doesn’t know if that’s a boy with long hair or a girl with swagger. The hilarious, fun friend who said outrageous things to make you laugh and encouraged you to ride your bike faster and farther than you ever had before. The friend whose bike had the big ass banana seat and the sissy bar jacked up high. The one your mom kept saying she didn’t like you hanging around but every time he was at your house she ended up cracking up with him in the kitchen. And she let him call her “Darlene”. The one that moves through life with an equanimity that you envy with every piece of your being.

Hanging out with Prince on my boombox, or the car stereo felt so freeing. He was the friend that let you do or say or feel whatever and he was cool with that, he probably had a song about it too. With a raised eyebrow and a sly smile, he’d play something that fit the moment just perfectly.

Much like that best friend from junior high, we grew apart and I moved on from Prince’s music in the early 90’s. But I never lost the love and respect I carried for the man and his talent. I’d seek out his appearances over the years; he was never less than thrilling. His genius always shone though. I appreciated the magic he possessed.

I went on and married a big Prince fan. In 2004 I found myself playing the online game of “refresh” in order to surprise him with tickets to see my junior high BF play the Schnitz. The best money I ever spent on live music, bar none. Prince played a show I will never forget for it’s artistry, energy and pure funk. It made me, a suburban mom who’d recently shucked out her second kid, feel sexy and young and free.

That was his magic. Whatever you needed to feel good, Prince could deliver.

And…ugh, I miss him.