Posted by: suek2001 | October 12, 2013

On the Wings of an Eagle, I’m flying again…

If you asked me what I did 16 years ago today, I could probably tell you that I went to Church and did some homework for some media course. I really don’t recall anything about Sunday, October 12th, 1997…

It was Monday October 13th,  my musical world changed…..I woke up at 7am to hear the phone ringing in the hallway…I didn’t have class ’till about 9am..and had NO desire to get up that I made no move to get the phone….It rang the four times and then was silent….I rolled over and tried to go to sleep…

The phone rang again..five minutes later….Frustrated, I got out of bed and ran to the phone…hoping to yell at whoever was calling…It was Betsy…my Aunt……

I still hear her voice in my head..she sounded like she was crying…even hyperventalating…

“Susan, JohnDenverwaskilledinaplanecrashinCalifornia”…….She said it so fast I had no clue what she said….I made her repeat it…and in my half-asleep stage, I recall thinking “Well, isn’t that sad some guy died out there…”

It never occurred to me it would be MY John Denver…the one that was such an important part of my childhood…and also a healer in times of grief….It just wasn’t HIM…

When it did hit me…I recall almost falling down the stairs..I still feel that disgusting carpet on my legs as I slipped down the stairs while holding the phone…Thank God, the wall stopped me….

My next call was to work..I worked at Target in St. Louis Park at the time..and I did something I rarely do I called in sick when I wasn’t really sick..I was emotionally but not physically…but I knew I couldn’t fake being cheerful that day….

I walked back into my room and stared at my stereo for a good five minutes….trying to decide if I should listen to his music at that moment….I just couldn’t…If I did, the tears would flow and not stop….

So, I got myself dressed and went to class…as I left my rooming house, I asked God to give me a John Denver song to let me know He was okay…and everything was going to be okay…The song God gave me was a Third Day song…a praise song…and I smiled through my tears as I knew John was in God’s care….and God would look after his family and all of us who loved him…

For about a month, I went about my business..mourned in quiet….although one song stuck out to me that week..I heard “Crazy Times” by Jars of Clay for the first time that week and thought to myself  “I now live in a post-John Denver world”….hard to fathom….

I think his death really hit me as I did a radio show in tribute to him….I rarely listen to it now as my grief is overwhelming in my voice….and it’s too painful to listen to…The last song I played on that show was “This Old Guitar”..from the Wildlife Concert….and as I listened…it hit me that I would never hear that voice live again…and millions of people would be denied the chance to see him live….and on that tape, you hear me cry…and for that reason, I can’t listen to “Guitar” to this day….

John’s…vision..dreams…are still with me…I carry them in my soul.  I only met him once..briefly..but I felt like I knew him..and he knew me….

I had tickets to see John with the Minnesota Orchestra on May 15th, 1998…never got to go…as that plane crash took him away from me..and so many others…

Yet, that same night, I saw a group that has greatly impacted my life….I think John would have smiled on the fact that I saw the Kingston Trio that night…and met George Grove, Bob Shane and Nick Reynolds….and on that night, the joy of music returned to me….and there are moments, I feel a bit of JD sneak into their concerts…and I smile…

Music really is a gift…and it’s not just limited to one person…John would love to know his music still matters…is still being sung and his influence is still being felt…

“..though the singer is silent, there still is the truth of the song”……—John Denver 1943-1997



  1. Beautifully expressed, Sue. Thank you.

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