Bill Hicks died twenty years ago today.
It seems like yesterday I got the call from his friend, Kevin Booth, tearfully telling me the news…that he passed at his parent’s home in Little Rock Arkansas in the early hours of a chilly Sunday with a shit-eatin grin across his face (that part could be lore, but I’ll take it anyway).
He drifted off without a struggle comforted by morphine and the feel of his mother’s hand, leaving the planet as though his spirit boarded a train taking him to his next show.
His mother, a week earlier, had said…no more visitors. She decided her son, barely thirty-two, would die quietly surrounded only by his immediate family.
Though it angered me then, I now understand. She was his mother after all who brought him into this world…her baby, she was merely reclaiming, at the very end of his abbreviated life. As heartbreaking as it was for me, it had to be utter agony for her.
Time has a way of explaining things one can finally find peace with.
“Bill’s gone,” Kevin said in a Texan twang much like Bill’s. “I’ll call you back when I know more.”
I remember thinking, there’s more, as a chill went up my bare legs making me feel my heart and I were separate from the rest of my body.
After calling my friend Chris who initially had broken the news to me Bill had cancer, I curled up on the bathroom floor crying like a sick animal. I stayed there so long my legs were numb. Attempting to stand, I fell back against the tub grateful for the physical pain hoping it would outweigh my heart. Sorry, no can do Susannah…a bullet to the chest would hurt far less than losing the one you love.
I think of Bill every day, usually when I see or read something I know he’d appreciate.
He had an avid interest in everything, one of the reasons he was such a prolific writer and compelling comedian.
I’m in awe, twenty years after his death, at the following he has…when you Google Hicks, like Elvis, scarves and water he’d say in his bit about the King, it’s as though he were still here.
He visits quite often when I sleep, dreams being murmurs in the night one can gently hear.
I also feel him near in a crisis…crying over a curve life’s thrown me I can’t possibly endure when suddenly there’s a warmth in the room, a presence helping me back up.
Was it really that long ago Bill when we made out on the Met steps…your hand down my blouse, me wrapped around you warm and snug. Remember that old couple who walked by..the man smiling, the woman shaking her head?
You said, “What is it Gramma, bring back old times?”
I’ll admit, we had our ups and downs, like any couple. There were times I made you so mad you’d scream at me slamming down the phone disappearing from my life for days. I’d cry thinking I’d never see you again, but then you’d call, quietly asking how I am, would I like to fly somewhere to see you.
It was your way of saying you were sorry, let’s try this again. I could never stay mad at you, and perhaps it was youth, because I’ve never felt it since, the pure joy hearing your voice twanging through the phone. To know, you still wanted to see the girl who drove you nuts, the one you called an enigma. My heart, front and center would say yes yes, because I’ve never loved anyone Willie, quite the way I loved you.
Bill Hicks died on this day….February 26, 1994