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We are gathered here today to get through this thing called life

Prince died 5 years ago today. Doesn’t feel like that long ago.

That morning, I was listening to WXRT on the way to the office. By the time I got there, Lin Brehmer — the morning deejay at the time who, with his colleague Terri Hemmert, is a national treasure — was waxing poetic about Prince’s passing. The somber tone was broken with the riff of a church organ.

Dearly beloved
We are gathered here today
To get through this thing called life

Electric word life
It means forever and that’s a mighty long time
But I’m here to tell you
There’s something else
The after world

The opening lines of “Let’s Go Crazy” left me weeping in a Naperville parking lot. I turned up my stereo as loud as it would go.

So when you call up that shrink in Beverly Hills
You know the one, Dr. Everything’ll Be Alright
Instead of asking him how much of your time is left
Ask him how much of your mind, baby

‘Cause in this life
Things are much harder than in the after world
In this life
You’re on your own

And if the elevator tries to bring you down
Go crazy, punch a higher floor

Five years later, Prince’s hometown is dealing with more gut punches beyond the loss of a favorite son. The world has been torn apart and spliced together in the past 5 years, and it’s changed a lot, it seems. Or maybe it hasn’t, and we’re just seeing the world for what it is a lot more clearly – and maybe that’s an even worse thing.

I’m in my mid-50s, when I thought I’d be done being disillusioned. Maybe it’s good that I let hope spring eternal about a lot of stuff, like human nature and – especially – faith. But how many times can that hope crash and burn in my eyes until I’m done with such things?

We’re all excited
But we don’t know why
Maybe it’s ‘cause
We’re all gonna die

And when we do (When we do)
What’s it all for (What’s it all for)
You better live now
Before the grim reaper come knocking on your door

Maybe it’s not terribly orthodox theology, but I don’t care. It’s become theology I can live with right now. I hope Prince and I will share an afterlife where I can thank him for that.