882344_867864376572437_1412610064932688728_oNo matter how many times I’m met with loss I feel the same things; stunned, hurt, angry, devastated. My British friends have a phrase I find particularly apt; “gutted”. Emotions are selfish. A loved one has moved on and we feel cheated…deprived of their light.
I’ve lived long enough to lose a lot of people. Too many by my estimation. It doesn’t get easier, it doesn’t hurt less, in fact, sometimes the hurt surprises you in how it manifests itself. Driving home from Minneapolis yesterday, I received a message on Facebook, telling me that a friend had passed away. Not a “sick” friend, not something expected but someone who I had spoken with via email recently. Someone who had “liked” things we posted just hours earlier. In this sick age we live in, I hoped it was a cruel joke; a sick kind of Facebook gag. I knew the person that sent it to me wasn’t the kind to do that but I still hoped. Miles went by with the thought; “Nah, it can’t be true…”.
I first met Carl Kurek at a gig at Legends. He was there with his wife Rina and they just had a warmth and a light about them that was magnetic. I don’t remember the specifics of that first meeting but I do know that within a very short time of talking to him, I knew we had a lot of things in common; he adored his wife (check), he loved the blues (check), he loved Stevie Ray Vaughan (check), he was a Buddy Guy fan (check). Carl and Rina never missed a Legends gig that we played and soon they began coming out to gigs in other places. Carl surprised us in Kansas City, he and Rina showed up in Auburn Hills, MI. a few times, one of my great honors was being invited to play his surprise anniversary party for Rina (which I kept referring to as her birthday!) Carl and I jammed together that night and sometimes he would post a picture of us together onstage. That always made me smile. I never told him that, I don’t know how to articulate the idea “hey, you like me and that makes me feel good about me and I love you for that”. One time he took a photo of me onstage at Legends, photoshopped a pic of Jimi with me, blew it up, framed and gave it to me. It’s in my office now and I think of Carl when I look at it.
One time we were in Auburn Hills at Callahan’s and the Beast was really acting up, the next morning we’re supposed to meet Carl and Rina for breakfast before we head to our next gig. I get up and try and start the Beast…nothing…won’t even turn over! I text Carl and he comes over in his BAD&$$ Charger (Yellow with black racing stripes!!), he jumps me off and we start heading to the mechanic…on the interstate it dies again, he U-Turns (!!!) in the middle of the interstate (sorry Rina, I promised I wouldn’t tell you;)), jumps us off and for the next 6 miles or so we do the same song and dance every 1/4 mile or so; Carl got us to the dealer, made sure we were safe and offered to hang with us until we were good.
Carl, single-handedly got Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame! His Facebook campaign is why they are in there. I know he’s in Heaven, cornering Stevie and setting up a jam right now! I hope he doesn’t elbow Jimi out of the way to get to Stevie!! Carl had passion. What an undervalued trait! Carl loved his wife Rina, his kids Rachel and Carl, Jr. and he adored his grandson Maddon. He was engulfed in love, an expression of love and a loved soul.
Carl wasn’t a fan, he was my friend. I never gave him anything, I always told him I was there for him but he never tested it and I never had to prove it. I know Carl was my friend because I hurt in my heart like I’ve lost a part of me. I’ve lived long enough to lose a lot of people and I know how that feels.