Late last week, Laurie Anderson submitted a lovely tribute to her deceased husband Lou Reed to The East Hampton Star. Today, she expands upon that in a much longer essay for Rolling Stone in which she reflects on their 21-year relationship, including their surprise wedding and Reed's final moments on Earth, with a beautiful, understated grace. Watch out, because the room is about to get dusty.
Anderson writes about how she met Reed in 1992 at a music festival in Munich put on by John Zorn—among other things, she was surprised Reed didn't have an English accent, and didn't know much about the Velvet Underground: "For some reason I thought the Velvet Underground were British, and I had only a vague idea what they did. (I know, I know.)" She writes a little about how she found herself dating him, and writes this moving paragraph all about their relationship:
Lou and I played music together, became best friends and then soul mates, traveled, listened to and criticized each other's work, studied things together (butterfly hunting, meditation, kayaking). We made up ridiculous jokes; stopped smoking 20 times; fought; learned to hold our breath underwater; went to Africa; sang opera in elevators; made friends with unlikely people; followed each other on tour when we could; got a sweet piano-playing dog; shared a house that was separate from our own places; protected and loved each other. We were always seeing a lot of art and music and plays and shows, and I watched as he loved and appreciated other artists and musicians. He was always so generous. He knew how hard it was to do. We loved our life in the West Village and our friends; and in all, we did the best we could do.
She describes their spur-of-the-moment wedding in Boulder, Colorado, writing, "When you marry your best friend of many years, there should be another name for it." Then she gets into the last months, and last day, of Reed's life:
As meditators, we had prepared for this - how to move the energy up from the belly and into the heart and out through the head. I have never seen an expression as full of wonder as Lou's as he died. His hands were doing the water-flowing 21-form of tai chi. His eyes were wide open. I was holding in my arms the person I loved the most in the world, and talking to him as he died. His heart stopped. He wasn't afraid. I had gotten to walk with him to the end of the world. Life - so beautiful, painful and dazzling - does not get better than that. And death? I believe that the purpose of death is the release of love.
At the moment, I have only the greatest happiness and I am so proud of the way he lived and died, of his incredible power and grace.
It's somewhat incredible to think about the notoriously grumpy Reed with such an optimistic, soulful woman, and yet it also makes perfect sense. Go read the whole thing, and have your faith in love and relationships restored for at least a few minutes.