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R.I.P. by Bikini Kill

Good-Bye, Ash

For those who don’t know me, my name is Dave Bonson. I have been playing music with Ash since 2012…and I am a stupid man. A few years ago, I decided to leave Madison and move to the West Coast. I was pursuing a career in music; I have already mentioned how stupid I am. While I was there, I scoured the city for people to play music with. Every time I played with someone else, it just didn’t feel right. I was a jigsaw piece to the wrong puzzle. I am a stupid man because it took me so long to realize that I was just looking for another Ash. Everything else was generic. I never should have left. Ash completed me and losing him is going to be a phantom limb that will hurt me for the rest of my life. Whether it was music, joy, the ability to love, the ability to make me laugh, or an overall approach to life, there was no one else like Ash. Trust me I have looked.

Over the last few days, I haven’t been cursing the heavens asking, “Why, God, why?” Instead, I have found myself wondering how I can simply exist anymore. Exist in a world without Ash. It’s something I cannot fathom. How can I cope and express my memories of him? Memories that span for nearly a decade.

For most of my life, when I find myself in difficult times, I often find perspective through Kurt Vonnegut. There are three words of perfect brevity of his that I came across that I think work for what I want to say. So it goes…So it goes represents how all moments, past, present, and future, always have existed, and always will exist. Memories that are stuck in time forever, like a bug in amber or like a song. That is a beautiful thing to think about.

So, when I say how I will always remember when we shared a tiny apartment and slept in punk beds. I say so it goes. When I talk about sitting on a cabin floor two feet from the TV playing video games like a couple of kids at a sleepover, but with beer. So it goes. Singing Against Me! parodies at people on the lake, Baby I’m a Kayaker was a thing of beauty. So it goes.

I remember when we wrote Just Like You, Just Like Me together. I was showing Ash and Evan a guitar riff I was working on and Ash immediately said, “I have lyrics for that!” and ran and got his notebook. Together we finished that whole song in 15 minutes. I like that moment a lot. Just three kids sitting on the floor with an unplugged electric guitar creating art. That song would become the reason that Tone, a local music publication, would call us Grunge-Smear. From that moment on if anyone asked what kind of band we were in; we would say grunge-smear. Skizzwhores, the grunge-smear band. So it goes.

We had so many memories together that we gave them titles. Memories of breaking into a dojo, of Pennsylvania mud ice, the legend of blood face, white power whale, strippers gizzards and sleds, Tiger’s on the prowl tonight, the pool of grass, and the list goes on. Every show we played, every song we recorded, every late-night drive home, every fight we had, and every time we broke out giggling over something dumb. Every time that I got to tell Ash good news and he would jump up and down, a bundle of pure excitement and joy, which was always my favorite thing. I say so it goes because these memories I will hold on to forever, they are stuck in time forever, they shaped who I am now, and they are my most cherished possessions. Because Ash did not leave his footprints in the sand but stomped them into concrete.

To me the most beautiful thing in the world is music. No matter how corrupt, greedy, and heartless the world may become. Music will always be wonderful. Ash filled my life with music. I can never thank him enough for sharing that gift with me and allowing me to be part of his musical life. Ash is my fondest memory, and always will be. So it goes.

The last time I spoke with Ash, all he did was talk about the future. Which was new to me because Ash often just lived in the here and now. Only worrying about how to get to tomorrow. I was so very proud of him and all his accomplishments, and I am so happy that I was able to tell him that. Ash hugged me and said, “That means a lot coming from you.” That is the last memory I have with Ash. So it goes.

Later, when a friend asked me how Ash was, I said, “It was one of the first times we actually spoke as adults.” It was brief because of course we immediately devolved back into children when we were with each other, but it happened. Watching Ash grow up, from the moment I met that little punk kid in a basement, to the person that he became, was an absolute privilege.

I can and will talk about Ash forever. I can ramble on to the end of time going over all of the memories that I share with Ash. However, I cannot do that right now. There simply isn’t enough time. So, I will sum everything up with three OTHER words that I came across. Three words that every human deserves to hear and say. Three of the most beautiful words in the world. Three words that can explain my entire life of knowing Ash. Three of the last words that I will say to Ash right now…I love you.