March 3, 2004
One month ago I turned the key to our apartment in
the Bronx, carrying Cornelius’ tenor and gig bag, and wearing his leather
jacket. (My coat was in my checked suitcase, somewhere between New York
I think there were eight messages on our voicemail that night. I was astonished at how quickly the news spread, and in the days that followed, even more astonished at how deeply and broadly Cornelius’ absence had been felt. Since that night, I don’t think there has been a moment when I have not felt companioned by your prayers and kindnesses. Your affection for Cornelius, and for the children and me, has been a tangible comfort.
Those of you who knew Cornelius know that he was a man without pretense. Cornelius was who he was. Occasionally he would come home from a recording session and tell me that the producer had asked him to imitate the latest chart-topping tenor player, and he’d told them he didn’t know how. That was only half true. Technically, he knew how to get that sound. What he didn’t know how to do was present himself as something he wasn’t. As you can imagine, there were times over the years when I found his inability to compromise exasperating! But I had to give him credit for being true to himself.
Thank you for sharing your own Cornelius stories with me and with our children. They’ve warmed our hearts and made us laugh. And I know that for each of you, there are friends and acquaintances who could share just as many stories of lives touched and enriched by your generosity and integrity of spirit.
Over the years Cornelius and I have shared a love for the writings of one of the spiritual pioneers of the late 19th century, Mary Baker Eddy. She once wrote “I sympathize with those who mourn, but rejoice in knowing our dear God comforts such with the blessed assurance that life is not lost; its influence remains in the minds of men, and divine Love holds its substance safe in the certainty of immortality.”
I take comfort in knowing that our dear God comforts you, and that whatever influence any of us has on one another’s lives, it brings lasting meaning. If I have learned anything in the past month, it’s how important it is to let people know how much their kindness means to me while I have the opportunity to do so.
Thank you all for your prayers, calls, cards, and gifts. We’ve really been overwhelmed by the love and support we have received. There are many people that I need to thank personally, and I will continue to do that privately, but just a few need to be mentioned here because of their unusual generosity.
Thank you Walter and Donald for dedicating the opening page of the Steely Dan website to Cornelius, literally within hours of his passing, and for your concern and support.
Thank you Rod for bringing together so many of Cornelius’ friends and colleagues for a tribute concert in Sonora that was uplifting and joyful. Cornelius would have wanted it that way.
Paul and Deb, thank you for your tenderness and understanding, and for devoting the better part of your lives during this past month to responding to all the messages coming into Cornelius’ website. I don’t know how I would have managed this without you.
Thanks Mom, Cheri, Cindy, Lishelle, and Regina for coming to New York even though I thought I didn’t need you to come and told you not to.
The “SD Webdrone” sent me several pages of comments that had been posted on various Steely Dan fan bulletin boards. On Feb. 4, the day after Cornelius’ passing, someone named Pam posted this quote by Aldous Huxley that I found especially meaningful. (Thank you, Pam):
“After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.”
With love and thanks,