Til I Hear it From You

Back when I was doing the From Claremont to Claremont program, I had this idea to include odd bits of flavor into the mix. Rather than it just being an eight hour non-stop comics discussion, it would become a 12 hour comics and “other stuff” discussion. I was working with a slew of co-hosts, each one focusing on one title. I thought it would be interesting to add some “getting to know you” type stuff — part in attempt to attract engagement, part just because I thought it would be a good time. I really had some grandiose plans for FCTC… thought it would be far more successful, and be around for a long time. It was not… and is not.

For the first episode, we included a rather boilerplate “Tell me your history with the X-Men” bit… which, stood to reason. For the second, I literally swiped a page out of Marvel’s Bullpen Bulletins — and conducted the same interview Marvel would put their editors thru back in the mid-80’s “Pro-File” segment. For the third episode, I tasked the fellas with putting together what they’d consider to be the “Soundtrack of their Life”. Songs that either meant a lot to them, or that exemplified a profound moment in their lives. As with the first two episodes, I would provide my own answers during the final closing segment.

Since Episode 3 is incomplete (what’s done IS available in segment form), and at this point — very likely to remain that way, I never got the opportunity to share mine. I did create one though. And, hey — why not share a song or two from it here?

Today’s song, off the “Soundtrack of My Life” is Til I Hear it From You by the Gin Blossoms (1995). A song that I’d always dug — I feel like the Gin Blossoms are a highly underrated band. Well worth a dive through their discography, in my opinion. — Til I Hear it From You was almost literally the Soundtrack of one of the tougher days I’d experienced just a few years ago.

This was almost exactly three years ago – May, 2019. It was the day that Reggie suffered his aortic dissection… or, the day after, rather — it was the day I found out about it (that’s almost another Gin Blossoms song right there!). I’m not sure I’ve written/said much about this day “in public” — I know I’ve spoken about Reggie’s passing, almost exactly one year later in May, 2020 — but, I don’t think I’ve told this one yet. Ehh, not like it matters — I’m still gonna tell it now anyway.

Very early the morning of, I’d woken up to use the restroom. This was and is a regular occurrence — happens to dudes of a certain age… and, from what I hear, it’s only going to get worse. I’d never check my phone, as a) I wanna get back to sleep as quick as possible, and b) I’m legally blind without my glasses… so, it’d be a big to-do anyway. This morning, however — for whatever reason, I did.

There was a text message from an unknown New York-based phone number. Now, here’s the thing – I know almost literally nobody. I don’t talk to anybody — very, very few people have my phone number. I assumed this was either a wrong number, or some malicious attempt at getting me to click a link or something. I took a closer look, and as I rubbed the sleep outta my eyes, realized that it was Reggie’s wife — and that something bad had happened.

I didn’t realize quite how bad. I saw the word “aortic”, and just assumed that he had a (mild) heart attack. I was sure that by the end of the day, he and I would talk — and, he’d quickly be on the mend — before we knew it, everything’d be back to normal.

I couldn’t get back to sleep. I didn’t respond right away to the text, either. Instead, I headed downstairs — fixed a cup of coffee — and set about getting started with my day. If you’ve been following this site, this was during the time I was working on Action Comics Daily. As luck would have it, I found myself about a week ahead of schedule — and didn’t exactly need to do any writing that day. That said, I was still planning on writing something. That something was the script for the Mary Worth “Aldo Kelrast” episode of The Cosmic Treadmill — which I’d been chipping away at for a week or two at this point.

As I sat down to start pecking away — I decided that… maybe I should do a little bit of research on whatever an aortic dissection is. If you don’t know, it’s a ridiculously terrifying event… with a very scary mortality rate. It’s how John Ritter died. Also, comics artist Mike Wieringo. It was becoming clearer and clearer that this might not be something that one could come back from. At least not easily.

Now, I’m a simple guy. Very analogue — in that, I have a hard time reconciling the internet and real life as being, in many ways, the same thing. Part of me still thought that nothing had happened to Reggie… and that, later that day we’d be trading DMs like any other day. Because… the internet and real life aren’t the same. Right? I’m not sure if it was my being in denial… or being just plain stupid. In any event, I was about to get a lesson in how wrong I was.

Throughout the first half of the day, I was texting with his wife, Lizzy. She was sending periodic updates… which, I wasn’t able to wrap my head around. I mean, it still wasn’t real — it still wasn’t true. I felt like I was, in a way, basically just “playing along” with the lie.

The house became kind of claustrophobic. Walls started to close in. Not sure if that was a result of reality setting in… or, just me being me. Either way, I needed to get out. But, where to go? I literally have nowhere to go. My only hobby is comics… and, so much of that was predicated on digging around shops looking for stuff that Reggie and I could talk about on the air. Maybe reality was setting in.

Anyway, I got in the car and figured I’d just drive around for a bit. When the radio came on, Til I Hear it From You was playing. A line from that song, if you’re not familiar with it, is: “I’ll just figure everything is cool, until I hear it from you.” This became kind of the anthem of the day. Nothing could possibly be wrong… until I heard it from him. Does that make sense? The song played… I listened… I heard that line, and — I dunno if it’s denial or density (probably a mixture of the two), but I dunno — it felt appropriate. It also kinda fueled my irrational bias that – if I didn’t literally see it, it wasn’t there. It wasn’t going on. Reggie’s family wasn’t waiting in some hospital to find out what’s going on. You understand?

My travels that afternoon took me on a loop of the city. Phoenix’s freeways are literally called “loops” — you could drive for hours and wind up right back where you started. I did pull over at a comic shop — but, I didn’t go in. I just didn’t see the point of it. During that drive, Til I Hear it From You played no less than a half-dozen times. At one point, it was playing on three stations at the same time. Every time I heard it, it… it’s weird, it went from providing me this odd bit of comfort… to almost mocking me. It began to get under my skin.

While nearing the end of my journey, I received another text message update. It was a long one — so, I pulled over to check it. This was the message where everything set in. Reality, fear, horror… it wasn’t the sort of news I was expecting. I mean, I’d spent the entire day trying to convince myself that “everything is cool”, right?

In this message, I learned that Reggie had not regained consciousness… and, while the doctors were confident he would survive — they weren’t so sure about the return of some motor functions. Which is to say, they didn’t know if he’d ever walk again. I’m almost positive there were also questions regarding brain function — but, I can’t recall any particulars off hand. That was when I finally broke down. Up until that moment, I was able to trick myself into thinking this was nothing more than a hiccup. Granted, I’m an idiot — and, an avoidant… so, it might stand to reason. But, it was with this message that reality set in — and, it set in all at once. Like a hundred pound weight had been dropped on my chest.

I replied… thanking her for the update… and struggling to tell her how I couldn’t imagine what she was going through. I was literally without words to describe how or what I was feeling. Shellshocked and instantly exhausted… I just didn’t know what to say. I mean, what couldja say?

As I headed toward the house, Til I Hear it From You played one more time. I can’t hear that song without thinking back to that day. It’s relatable… or at least it was, before I got that dose of reality. It was the soundtrack to a profound and painful day. “As far as I know, nothing’s wrong — until I hear it from you.” used to mean something… until it didn’t. Thanks for reading.

If this piece made even less sense than I usually do — I should mention that I’m typing this up on my phone. My laptop grenaded, and I’ve yet to buy a replacement.

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