I never had a childhood. I was robbed of that part of my life. A couple that didn’t really want a daughter adopted me. They wanted a slave. They wanted someone to help work 36 acres of orchard. We lived three miles from a small town. Having said that, living closer to town would not have made any difference, as I wasn’t allowed to go anywhere anyway. My life consisted of orchard chores, school, and more orchard chores.
To make up for my parent’s insensitivity, or lack thereof, I started to write. At first, just short stories, then poems, songs, and even a book by the time I was seventeen. Unfortunately, no one was interested in publishing my work. One such publisher did, however, take the time to advise me that my writing was “far too deep and too heavy!” Part of his explanation was that topics had to be light and airy. He said no one would be interested in having to actually think about something they had just read. I mean, who would want to do that? Heaven forbid!
In order to compensate for my empty life, I filled every vacant moment with writing, fantasies, romanticism, and music. Music became my love. Music became my lover. Where ever I was, you could hear tunes emanating, be it from the room I was in, or the car, or through headphones. Music was my life. Music was my sanity. And music got me through over thirty years of abusive relationships.
Finally, I was lucky enough to find a job I loved as much as I loved music. I aquired a position, shipside, with the Canadian Coast Guard, which I did for fifteen years. Can you imagine how thrilled I was to be able to combine my music with my life at sea? Much to the disbelief of many of my fellow crewmates, I couldn’t wait to get to work. We’d work a 12-hour shift, 28-days on and 28-days off. I even worked as many back to back shifts as I could. I started at the bottom as a deckhand and worked my way up to become one of four Officers on board. It was hard work and it was exciting. When not on shift, you could find me with my music relaxing in my cabin or fishing off the aft deck with the music blasting. This was something I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I don’t think it’s often in life that a person can find something so wonderful to do that it actually overhelms them in every way. The love of my life became my life at sea. Then one day in 1999, we took a rogue wave and I was seriously injured. I was working hard at getting rehabilitated and could actually see the light at the end of the tunnel. It wouldn’t be long and I could return to sea or so I thought, until in 2002, I was diagnosed with cancer. Okay, I thought, so it’ll just take a little longer to relocate that light in the tunnel. The light was just coming back into focus when it was discovered my lungs had been damaged during radiation treatments. The light at the end of the tunnel extinguished itself and in 2005 the job was taken from me. I was forced into early retirement and faced with spending the remainder of my life disabled.
When something like this happens, you feel cheated and robbed. You get lost. You lose yourself. You even hate yourself. You hate going places alone so you just don’t go. You can’t breathe properly so you don’t go far. You shut yourself off from everyone and everything. Life loses whatever meaning it once had. And the worst part is you just don’t care. You sit in the dark. You don’t answer the telephone. You just let it ring. You don’t answer the doorbell. You just let them knock. You almost look for a way out. You find yourself not afraid of dying. There’s no apparent reason to go on day after day without any quality of life. Oh, did I say quality of life? What quality of life? It no longer is in existence! You cannot forsee a future. You no longer have any faith. There is no light at the end of the tunnel. There isn’t even any music. There is only silence. Yes, silence and questions. We come into this life alone. We go out of this life alone. Is that why some of us are destined to live alone, to be alone forever? Wow, you suddenly find yourself at this place where you have nothing but questions and none of the answers. And sadly, there is no one around who can give you the answers you seek.
In May of 2008, this is where I found myself. Then one evening while watching television, I suddenly found myself looking into the eyes of Neil Diamond. He was promoting his new album Home Before Dark and to announce his concert tour dates. The next day, I used what money I had left, to purchase a couple of tickets and asked a friend to accompany me because I did not want to go alone. This was to be my last hurrah!
A few months later, two excited females attended the Neil Diamond concert at GM Place in Vancouver, B.C. Canada. When he walked on stage, the place erupted. I am proud to admit I was one of the ones with tears in my eyes. Goodness, truth be told, I don’t think I took my eyes off him for one minute. I found myself wondering what must it be like for him to stand there before an audience of thousands of adoring, enthusiastic people who love him? What could that thunderous clapping, screaming, yelling, and roaring, possibly sound like from his perspective? What could it possibly have felt like? The concert was outstanding! Neil was outstanding!
The following day we returned home but all was not the same. I am thrilled to say that since September 20, 2008, something truly amazing has happened to me. Thanks to Neil Diamond, I have found my way back. He gave me a reason to live another day, and another day after that. Yes, Neil Diamond is the reason I am here today! He is the person I need to thank! I can, once again, see the light at the end of the tunnel. And once again, I have music in my life. Not one day has passed where his music has not been emanating from my residence. Did I mention I own every one of his music accomplishments be it Records, Cds, DVD’s or VHF concert / performances? My neighbours may not be as impressed as much as I am. Quite frankly, I do not care. I do this for me! Ah, Neil Diamond does this for me!
Each of us hears mucis and relates to it in our own special way. When I listen to Neil I find that the musical notes, his emotions, and his words flood through me and resonate clear down to my toes. I am so very envious of those people in his life. Oh, to be a bug on the wall in his studio to watch him writing, singing, rehearsing! How could anyone not want to be glued to him? To have the opportunity to listen to his stories, to follow his thought process, to listen to every word, to sit on his tongue as the words are born and sung! Oh, but we can do this! We are all privvy to this information. He shares with us all his feelings, the loves, the hurts, the disappointments, depression, sadness, jubilations, hysteria, happiness, etc. It is all here in the words and in the notes of his songs. We need only but listen. Amazing! Simply amazing!
I truly believe every one in his or her life has a soul mate. Neil Diamond, you are mine. If not for you, I would not be sitting here right now writing this. Neil, please, please, please, never stop writing, singing, and touring. You are a true genius! Thank you for your music. Thank you for helping me find my way back! I am truly truly grateful!
With fondest regards,
Linda Susanne Mitchell