Xeno Hemlock


A Thousand Words (In Memory of Christina Grimmie)

A thousand words. That was my aim when I sat on my beloved spot in my favourite Starbucks where I loved to write. A thousand words for the novel I was working on. A thousand words for the dream. 

I booted my Macbook, placed my drink next to the wall, and went for a brief Facebook browsing. Then I saw it, a news article on my timeline claiming Christina Grimmie was dead. 

I clicked on the article, hoping it was just a hoax like many previous rest-in-peace jokes. But not that time, the article turned out legit. Christina’s passing was real. My heart sank in front of the baristas busy whipping up customers’ drinks. 

Then I went over at Twitter and searched for tweets about Christina’s untimely death. A small part of me still refused to believe she’s gone, like a reader who reread the last few sentences she just read from a book after her beloved character died in front of her very eyes. The words of sadness and condolences of people from around the world eventually hammered to me the truth. Christina’s really gone.

Grimmie’s angelic voice became known to me in 2013, when I discovered her album With Love with the titular track ending up as one of my favourite songs of all time. In my previous blog Hemlock Time on WordPress, which I decided to close a few weeks ago, I listed her album in an article titled “Six Albums You Should Definitely Not Miss” along with Ace Reporter’s Yearling, Ariana Grande’s Yours Truly, Birdy’s Fire Within, Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories, and Noah Guthrie’s Among The Wildest Things. Christina’s beautiful voice drew me to her, making her album a regular in my music player that year.

Taken from "Six Albums You Should Definitely Not Miss"

When I heard that she would be competing in season 6 of The Voice, I was ecstatic. The TV show would help introduce Christina to a wider audience and I felt she deserved that, even if in the end she didn’t win that season’s crown.

After reading the tweets, I asked myself why was I stunned with her death. I haven’t followed Christina’s post-The Voice career which made me question why I was that affected. And there in my question I got my answer.

Just because I was no longer updated with her music, it didn’t mean Christina failed as an artist. There are so many variables in life. Sometimes we get pulled from one place to another, one event to another, and even one interest to another. But that doesn’t mean that whatever touched our hearts before and occupied a place in it was eventually forgotten. 

I’ll never stop loving With Love. The number of times that song made me cry, I had forgotten. But the emotions it evoked from me, I can’t. Like all the other songs that made it in my own Hall of Fame, I drew it out of its shelf to listen to every now and then. @@That’s art. It makes you feel.@@ It swirls inside the stream of your humanity, sets you ablaze, cools you down, and leaves a footprint before you think it’s gone. Then you discover it’s never truly gone. It stays with you forever, bound with you to eternity.

On my way home yesternight, I thought of writing this. Then I hesitated, in fear others might view this as capitalising on a tragedy. As I conversed further with my inner voice, I realised it was a foolish thing to believe in! In today’s landscape where spewing hate and destruction gets more attention and clicks, all the more reason we should speak about love, the good, and creation. There’s nothing to be ashamed of in telling how somebody touched our lives, even after their passing.

Christina’s and I’s media might be different, but our dreams are the same. Art. That’s why I was shaken by the news of her death. A fellow artist whose work once became a part of my life is now gone. Thinking about the future and its possibilities is supposed to be exciting, but in this case it’s heartbreaking. Thousands of Christina’s promising tomorrows will now turn into thousands of could’ve-beens. 

Should we mourn? Yes because we lost a sister.

Should we grieve? Yes because a beautiful soul was taken from us.

Should we be sad? Yes because it is a respectful way to honour somebody’s death.

But the answer is “No” too. Moving forward we’ll reminisce about her contagious joy and exuberance. We’ll retell stories of how she touched our hearts with her music. We’ll speak of her name with gratitude to what she left us with and not the hole created by her loss. We will always look back at her life and not her death. The fingerprints of her art will remain inside us. Even if she’s gone, she’ll continue living.

Christina, thank you for the music. Every now and then, I’ll draw your songs out of their shelves and listen to them. @@As your angelic voice fills my ears, I’ll think of you with love.@@

She had been given a wonderful gift: life. Sometimes it was cruelly taken away too soon, but it’s what you did with it that counted, not how long it lasted.
— Cecelia Ahern, P.S. I Love You

Support the Grimmie family. Visit their GoFundMe page.

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