A Purple Celebration
Updated: Nov 11, 2020
After Prince died, thousands gathered in the streets in front of First Avenue that electrifying spring day. It was a significant place, where the memory of Minnesota’s purple prince igniting the stage, with an eccentricism and seduction only he could rouse, was so alive. There were long embraces, and much reminiscing. Many wore purple. Folks made art- paintings, banners, poems. Catharsis was found in grief-ridden tears but also so much life-giving dance. Some time around sunset it rained, most people swear the sky turned purple.
For three days this celebration continued until the sun came up. Prince's death made ripples through a worldwide community, and those ripple’s certainly made waves closest to home. It was one of those moments in time where a collective memory is created- if you were there, you know. I’ll never forget the yoga class I went to that weekend. Our instructor played Prince’s music throughout the whole class. We listened to the sexy groans coming from his tracks as sweat dripped down our bodies from head to toe, and our instructor said, “just breath in that purple magic”. And we did, deep breaths of purple, as our heart rates accelerated and it was hard to tell if the tension that had been building was nearing grief or gratitude, but when it broke it felt so important to be in that moment either way.
Prince had a colorful celebration of life, to say the least. Our local community participated enthusiastically. There was so much room made for expression of meaningful memories, gratitude, and grief through art, dance, music, and holding one another. People took the time to live out the process together. It felt important, there was this sense that it was all so much bigger than all of us- the kind of reminder we all need from time to time. Three days in the streets, three whole days of observation, together. And so many collective acknowledgments or moments of stillness dedicated to Prince’s memory for weeks to come.
There was no stale church basement assembly, no disconcerting fluorescent lights overhead mourning faces, no awkward speech given by someone's inappropriate uncle. Rather than the the those experiencing the most grief having to be the ones to put in the most labor for the community to mourn their loved one, the community itself became the resource- allowing this expression of grief to become something that gave life, something that helped the experience of becoming intimate with death to be an integrative one, rather than the dissociative kind most of us have experienced.
Much like Prince showed us that feminine men could walk with a hard ass swagger in their step, he showed us that Celebrating life after death can be something profoundly beautiful if we lean in, follow our hearts, and dedicate ourselves to imagination- even, and especially, during times of loss.