I know now, more than ever, that we’re not going to have to go through this alone. We have each other, and we have our fans. And if we – all thousands of us – stick together and support each other, we’re going to make it through the worst of the storm with no more than a few scratches and bruises. Gerard’s been gone for two weeks now, but I can feel him stronger than ever right now. I sure hope he’s looking down on us right now, and he’s proud as hell of the life that he made down here. He’s affected the lives of all these people, and all of us are only here, trying to give back a fraction to him of what he gave to us.
I look around me and I see so many people, and it’s such a beautiful thing to see. All these people care enough about us and about Gerard to come here from all over the world, just for a few hours to raise a candle for him and to lend a hand of support to the others. This, right here, is what music is all about. Nothing more, nothing less… just this.
Ray got up on the platform in front of Gerard’s coffin to give his speech. He stood up tall and proud, his hair blowing in the gentle breeze.
“First of all, I want to thank every single one of you for coming out here.” He said confidently into the mic. “To see this many people come out here for Gerard is so powerful to me. And I’m sure he’s seeing every second of it.”
He took a breath and traced his gaze up to the sky for a second before continuing.
“Some of you have been fans since we started this thing. Some of you have maybe just heard of us. But it doesn’t matter how long you’ve known about us, you are all the same in our eyes, and in Gerard’s. You’ve seen and heard about everything he’s done and gone through, and that alone, is what really matters right now. He lived a life of hardship, but of hope. Even in his darkest days of addiction, he still had a sliver of hope, and that sliver of hope has given us hope when we needed it. We’ve had some of you come up to us after shows and tell us that after seeing or reading about his past, you decided to not go through with the suicide you were planning. He’s saved some of your lives with the hope he displayed in his life. And really, that was what he was all about. All he ever wanted to do with his life was make a difference, and change the lives of others. I hope he’s looking down on us right now, and I hope he realizes that he did just that, in a way that nobody else ever could have. He changed not only the lives of Frank, Mikey, myself, his parents and friends, our tour managers and producers… but all of you who are here with us tonight, celebrating his life and everything that he was. I hope he’s damn proud of himself, because I sure am. And I’m so proud of all of you for being strong and going through this with us.”
He stepped down from the platform, and a wave of applause and cries of support filled the night sky.
Look, Gerard. This is all for you.
Mikey took Ray’s place on the platform. He stood there with more of a nervous, child-like demeanour than with Ray’s confidence. But knowing Mikey, he’ll do whatever it takes to honour his brother, even if he has to push himself to do it.
Give him that little push…
“Hey, guys.” He said with a chuckle. “Like Ray said, I want to thank you all for doing this with us. And I’m not just talking about right here in this moment, I’m talking about the whole walk that we’re going to have to take without Gerard right here beside us. I honestly don’t think we could do it without you.”
He looked down on me and flashed a nervous smile, and I tried to mimic that smile Gerard always used to give us when we were scared.
Good luck with that, Frank.
“We’re gonna keep on walking for a long time.” He said, sounding a bit more confident in his words. “It’s not the end of the road, it’s just the beginning of a new one. And although he can’t walk it with us physically, he will be spiritually, and even is as I speak. He’s going to be there, and he’s gonna tell us to keep going on, even when we’re tired and weak. When we feel like we can’t take another step, he’ll hold us up and give us the strength to go another mile. He’s never going to leave us completely.”
He paused for a second and reached into his pocket, then pulled out the note.
“We found this tangled up his his bed sheets. We don’t know when or how we wrote it, but he did. And in it, he told us everything that I’m telling you right now. I’m still there for you, I promise. I’m whatever you want me to be. If you’re scared of the shadows, I’ll fight them away. If you’re cold, I’ll be the sun that warms you up. If you’re lonely, I’ll be your imaginary friend. If you’re scared, I’ll give you that little push forward. And if you find yourselves missing me, I’ll hold your hand and never let go.” He said, quoting the note. “He’s all around us, and he knows how we’re all feeling right now. The pain, the hurt, the confusion… and he wants to be there with us, to bring us back when we feel like we’re lost in all of it. So don’t give up just yet. Live your lives for him.”
Mikey stepped down with tears in his eyes.
“You did great, Mikes.” I smiled, figuring he needed the encouragement.
It was my turn to step up onto the platform and present my speech. I got up and looked into the crowd, and thousands of faces stricken with all shades of hope and hurt looked back at me, awaiting what I had to say.
“For the third and final time, I want to thank you all, every single one of you for coming here today to be with us and to be with Gerard.”
Give me the strength to speak, my love; my words are failing me.
“Four months ago, he was diagnosed with Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease. Every single day after that, another part of him slipped away. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to watch, but at the same time, it gave me so much hope. First, his eyesight left him. Then his stomach got so weak that he couldn’t keep down food… he lost so much weight that he could barely take a bath because his bones hurt so much, being pressed up against the tub walls. His hearing left him as well, and the only way we could communicate with him was through touch. He could draw for a while, but then that was reduced to just writing. I don’t know how he did it, but as Mikey showed you… he could. He was cold all the time, and it became nearly impossible to keep him warm. Eventually, he got so weak that he couldn’t leave his bed. He was just a dead corpse laying there. But even that dead corpse still had some life left in it. He was hanging out a 100 story high window by only threads, but damn did he ever hold onto those threads.” I laughed to try and hold back the tears. “But not once did he complain. Not once did he ask why. Not once did he even so much as try to reverse the direction he was going in. He accepted his fate, and changed the three of us so much. To our dying days, we will remember how he held on until his last breath left him, and it will keep us going when life gets hard.”
I wiped a few inevitable tears from my cheeks.
“I truly believe he’s here right now. He’s everywhere around us.” I said. “In his note, he said: don’t you dare say goodbye, because goodbye means going away. If you call for me, I’ll come running as fast as I can. I’m everywhere that you want me to be. We’re all going to need him at one point or another, and he’s going to be there for every single one of you. Look for him, and you’ll find him, wherever you are.”
I stepped down, and Ray and Mikey ran over and threw their arms around me. The three of us stood there for what felt like a lifetime, encased in the glow of love and support, and the knowledge that Gerard is there too, somehow.
I can almost feel his arms around me.
I grabbed a candle from the table in front of me and held it up to the sky, as high as I could. To him, it’s probably only one star within millions. But I hope he knows that as long as I live, I’ll hold that candle high for him.
“Guys, this is amazing.” Mikey cried, looking up at the sky as he spoke. “If only he could see this, he’d be so fucking happy…”
“He can see it.” I said.
A star shot across the sky, leaving a trail behind it as it fell out of the sky.
“Look, there’s Gerard.”
“What?” Ray and Mikey said in synchronization.
“Gone too soon, but made a mark on this world and looked damn beautiful while doing it.” I laughed.
He’s in that star. He’s in the trees and the wind and even the dirt beneath our feet. He’s the flame of my candle, and the hope that encases me. He’s everywhere.
I pinned his drawings up on my wall, right beside my bed.
“Goodnight, my perfect angel. Sleep well in heaven.” I whispered to them.