I have changed the names of people mentioned in this story except for Seth's.
In 2006, some friends of ours got married outside of Portland. We attended Jake & Sarah's wedding and made a lot of new friends, mostly from Seattle, where the bride & groom were both from. One new Seattle friend stood out from the rest: very handsome, hilarious, smart as a whip, a dental student, & an even bigger music expert than we were. Seth had a brilliant blue eyes, and a smile that would make any girl blush. We hit it off with him immediately, and kept in close contact. Music was a very important part of our friendship, and we often traded stories about the best or latest concert we'd attended. He always (and this part is important) had the coolest stories about meeting the bands. Just randomly, he'd run into big & famous musicians pre or post-show, and get photos with them. He just had that charismatic magnetism I guess.
Over the next year, we chatted almost daily. Seth quickly became "best friend material", and we wished he'd lived closer. He was working hard at school, but would come to Portland for the weekend occasionally. For one reason or another, we could never make it work to meet up with him - we were either out of town, busy, broke, sick, etc. It just never worked out. This is something I will regret for the rest of my life... Not making more of an effort to *make* it work.
Late one night in August, I received a call from the Mrs. Half of our friends who had gotten married the year before. We weren't really very close, so I dismissed it as a butt-dial & didn't answer Sarah's call. She didn't leave a voicemail or text either.
At that time, I was working in a tasting room at a winery 45 minutes away from our apartment in Portland. I had gone to work the next morning following the unanswered call like normal. Shortly after opening the tasting room at 10am, I got a call from my husband on the business's phone, which was unusual - something was wrong.
"Seth's dead. He's just gone. Claire found him last night. Just come home."
My heart sank & I felt sick. I started shaking & sobbing, and ran to tell my boss I needed to leave. That 45 minute drive home seemed to take forever.
Sarah had called my husband at work that morning and told him that Claire (Seth's ex-girlfriend, though they were still very close friends) hadn't been able to get in touch with him. He had gone to a show by himself, taken a couple of pills (he was an occasional recreational drug-user, but nothing "hard"), went home and collapsed on the floor of his apartment. Because Seth wasn't answering his phone, Claire was worried. She still had a key to his apartment, so she let herself in only to discover Seth lying there, not breathing.
We were just shocked - Seth wasn't known to just randomly take something that would put his life at risk. My husband & I sat huddled around our laptop, staring at his MySpace photos (remember this was 10 years ago). Our favorite was a photo of him on a beach - Maui, I think - with a perfect, bright rainbow in the sky behind him. He's looking over his shoulder with a big smile & little twinkle in his eyes.
I said out loud, "This just doesn't seem real. I can't wrap my head around it... It seems like some sort of sick joke Seth would pull and think it was a great prank." Just then, the bedroom door slammed shut. Hard. Like shake-the-windows-and-pictures hard. The door slammed as if to say, "this is real, you guys." We did not have any windows open - we always kept them shut & blinds closed during hot summer days. We just looked at each other & smiled, almost laughed, yet cried at the same time. After that, we decided to drown our sorrows at our local pub where we talked about Seth for hours.
The following day, we learned of the where & when of his service in Seattle. It happened to be on the same day as Patti Smith's show in Portland... Patti is my idol; I'd been dying to see her for years & had been looking forward to the event for months. So, we gave this some careful thought. Our reason for skipping the funeral was this & this only: Seth would want me to see Patti. It just felt right.
We talked about Seth on our way to the show. It was a cloudy day and looked like it might rain. We wondered if we'd made a mistake, but drove on.
We parked & walked to the venue... It was at Waterfront Park, which is outdoors. The grounds were sparse which surprised me as Patti is the "godmother of punk", a poet laureate and playing with her band that day was the one & only John Cale of the Velvet Underground, and Peter Buck of REM.
I noticed a small, older woman, wandering around, she brushed by me with a nervous look as though to say, "excuse me". I turned to my husband and whispered, "She looks JUST LIKE Patti Smith!" So, we're eyeing her, and there she goes into the booth we're she's signing copies of her new record. I nearly peed myself. No one was at her booth. It was just right there, open as if only for me. I swallowed a couple gulps of my drink and walked right up to Patti Smith.
I garbled on like an idiot. Something embarrassing flew out of my mouth like, "I've always loved you, you're my hero", you know: what NOT to say. She graciously took my hands in hers and said "Hello, hi. Thank you, thank you." So warm and just - lovely. I already had a copy of her CD but alas, purchased another anyway, just so she'd sign it for me. I walked away dazed.
Still reeling from that experience, Seth heavy on my mind, we turn to see Beth Ditto from the Gossip standing a few feet away. She caught our eyes, smiled widely and ran over to us: "I KNEW I'd run into friends here!", hugging us. We must've looked stupefied, as she said, "We're friends...right? Wait, how do I know you guys?" My husband said something like, "we've seen a lot of your shows and are big fans, but I don't think we've ever met." Beth was super sweet anyway, and I told her I'd just met Patti. She scampered off herself, hoping to meet her.
Patti takes the stage. A few songs in, it starts to sprinkle. All the while I'm thinking, "Seth sent them to us. I love you, buddy." She then begins her song, "Ghost Dance". In the song, she chants over & over, "we shall live again." As the chanting starts, the sky forms a bright rainbow, just like in the photo of Seth. I was astounded & moved, to say the very least. I felt, "you did the right thing. I'm here, too."
The next day, I messaged Seth's younger brother, explaining why we hadn't attended the service in Seattle. I didn't share my experiences there, but he understood and said, "If Seth hadn't been cremated, he'd have rolled over in the casket after hearing the terrible music played at the funeral."
Logic would say these are coincidences & wishful thinking. But I'm 100% sure Seth was with us that day.
Two years following his death, we visited Seattle for the anniversary. His close friends all get together, go bowling & just tell stories to keep his memory alive. One of his friends who we never met before, said, "Oh - Seth talked about you all the time. He really liked you, said you were pretty cute." I blushed as if he could see my reaction.
I love you & miss you, my friend.