The idea for this piece first began brewing, when a friend posted a picture of a friend she lost in response to a post I put up about the loss of one of my own friends. She pointed out, we are all connected through these deaths. And then, I stumbled across this news story, the tragic death of a relatively unknown musician. I thought, once more, of how we are all connected in these deaths. Then I uncovered the story of the dead man's bandmate, and I realized that we are all also connected in recovery.
I stumbled across this story, as it popped up in my news feed. When I first clicked on the story, I read of the death of a relatively unknown musician. I wondered momentarily if I was missing something. I read,
“Possum Dixon star Celso Chavez passed away at the age of 44. He died on Wednesday, May 12, due to complications from a staph infection, which led to a bout of pneumonia.”
His former bandmate, Rob Zabrecky, told Los Angeles Times, “Drugs had a lot to do with it…He had been doing a lot of harm to his body for a really long time. It finally took its unfortunate toll.”
The former LA band, Possum Dixon, began to rise during the early 90’s, but like so many other bands, drugs eventually took a toll on the band. And I read this news, death of one of the members, obviously due to drug abuse. I think back to so many of the guys in bands I have known…
Guys in bands that toured around the country, celebrated some success, and even maybe had a spot on MTV at one time, and I think about the toll that drugs and alcohol took on some of the guys I know. Some of them are clean now, and others still struggle with their disease and lagging success. Some have found new musical ventures, or writing and artistic adventures, and others have continued to rock it out, full of whisky in a small corner bar in New Orleans. Some have gotten clean, and learned to manage their addictions and foster their careers, while others have tragically passed away. It is the cycle we know as addiction. I think back to all the other artists I have known throughout my years, dead and gone. All the people I have known, dead and gone.
I think about this band that I had never heard of, but I see the face of so many that I know, or have known. And I think back to all those I lost, who have eventually succumbed to the disease of addiction and I wonder, what makes this story different than all the rest. I have not heard of this band, or either of these members, but I realize we are all connected through the deaths we experience from addiction. I realize that we are all connected each time we hear news like this, and the memories of our friends, our loved ones, come funneling back over us, and we realize that, yes…we all relate to this. We are all connected through each of these deaths we experience as a result of addiction, we mourn for our loved ones, and those of us in recovery often realize just how close we each have come, to being that one going into the ground.
And that is precisely why we are so strongly connected through these deaths. We know what it is like to lose your coworker, or friend, or lover. We know what it is like to look back into our memories, laughing together with that person, and we know that those are all that is left, now. Memories. And often times, when I lose another friend to addiction, it has been years since we have really been close. That is just the way it is sometimes, when we find recovery. But, I think back to all the friends I have lost, as their faces, fade to just a memory.
And often times, it had been years since I had really spoken to them, and words of their deaths often come, first in frantic Facebook messages from those who still reside in the area, or still ride the rails, and the interconnection of all those kids I came to know in New Orleans. The messages begin to spread, before the news of the tragedy. Sometimes, it seemed like we were losing them, one each month. Seems like it has clamed for a while, but maybe I am just farther and farther removed, and they are all slowly dying off.
We are all interconnected by each of these deaths, and those of us in recovery have this special connection through those deaths, in that we made it out. And it is not until we look back, that we realize how lucky we really are. It is not until we look back, in our sobriety, that we realize just how powerful our survival is, and hopefully one day…we will understand the reason we survived. For so many of us, to share our stories, at least it is so with me.
So, I look back up, at this news story, and I think of the musician succumbing to staph and pneumonia, and I think back to so many of my friends I saw lying in the hospital, sick. Deathly sick at times. I think back to Melanie, and to Linda…I think back to them, sitting there; one with staph in her leg, and one with endocarditis. I think back to long-term hospitalization for one, and I think back to discussing the very real possibility that my friends could lose her leg. I think back to those horrors, seeing a friend potentially dying before me. Bluish-white hospital walls, smelling like ammonia and bleach. The smells of death and fear pervade the air. And I think to the man, Celso Chavez. And I think back to Melanie, and to Linda…both of who survived that scary hospital experience I was once privy to. And both have since died of an overdose.
I realize the similarity, and the face sitting in that hospital bed could have been any one of our friends. We all feel the pain of losing a friend to addiction. Especially when we are in recovery. And then, I realized the real story that emerges here is not the story of this dead musician, but instead it is of the musician who is still alive; the artist who is quoted, discussing his friend’s demise.
I quickly pull the band up on You Tube, and their most frequently hit song, “Watch the Girl Destroy Me,” slides onto my screen. The song has this eerie similarity to Blind Melon, and I am reminded of my dear Shannon. Another soul lost to addiction. And suddenly, my heartstrings pull again, and I realize that, yes…we are all connected by these deaths.
And it is up to us to do something about it.
I continued listening to Possum Dixon, and I gotta say, I really like it a lot. It is definitely right up my alley, and I wonder why I never heard of them before. The one song reminds me of Blind Melon, but the rest of it has the nuances of punk that I adore with the haunting sweet voice that sometimes reminds me of David Byrne. So, I sit here and listen, realizing the divine purpose behind it all.
First off, I downloaded three new albums into my Rhapsody, and I began to read up a little more about these guys. When they recorded their third album, Rob Zabrecky was newly sober. Drugs destroyed the band, and Zabrecky has gone on to do so many other things.
And I realize, as I stand here at this pivotal point in my life, where I am finally doing all these things I was meant to do, and I realize that Zabrecky is the real story today. As am I, as we all are. As we are all connected in these deaths, but we are also all connected in life and in recovery. And we can inspire each other with our stories.
Rob Zabrecky is an artist of many faces. As I hope to also be, an artist of many faces. Not that any of my artist faces will be similar to Rob Zabrecky, but that is what makes us each an artist, I dare say. Rob has gone on to appear on records with Beck, Jim Carroll, and Ric Ocasek. He has also written several books, including a lyrical graphic chapbook. Zabrecky has had numerous acting roles, and also boasts the talents of a magician. So, I realize as I research this piece about the death of a little known musician, succumbing to his addictions, I uncover the treasure about the one in recovery.
We all share these stories, as we are all connected through these deaths due to addiction. We know what the friend is feeling in their loss, and also in their recovery. Our hearts may be heavy with the sadness for those past, but there is some sort of inner joy for being the one who has survived…and not only survived, but gone on to live a happy life, doing something we love.
So Rob Zabrecky is the real story here. Just as I am. And just as you are. We are the real stories behind it all. We are the stories of recovery.
If you or someone you know is struggling with drug addiction, please contact us.