Sometimes it takes a pitch, high and inside, to make you stop for a few minutes and see what’s actually going on.

I’ve expended so much energy wrapped up in news and social media exchanges about the pandemic and the protests against rampant racism that I’ve left very little to focus on what is going on around me. Even as I immersed myself in producing a group recording of With a Little Help From My Friends, a thank you to everyone who is risking their life every day to make sure the rest of us are okay, I was looking from 50,000 feet.

The truth is, when I was producing the song, painstakingly mixing and remixing vocal contributions, I was more aware of the collective voice than that of the individual contributors. That was the point, really; to bring everyone into alignment, in perfect melody and harmony if you will. Most of the contributors are friends and I treated their recordings as mere contributions in a collective. I was mixing parts, not collaborating with individuals.

One of my friends who contributed a recording died very unexpectedly last night. Jeremy Goldstein is a long-time friend of mine. In fact, we’ve known each other for so long, I can’t remember when and where our friendship actually began. Regardless, he was one of several very important friends during my high school years. We lost touch as you do, though reconnected at a mutual acquaintance’s 40th birthday party a few years ago. We carried on that connection over Facebook. The thing is, no matter how much you may drift apart, it’s the times when you were tight that you carry with you.

Listening to Jeremy’s singing and watching his contribution for the accompanying video, I am aware of so much more. I hear more than the familiar voice. I hear someone who is grateful for where he is, for the people around him and those who have our backs. I hear someone who, like all of us, is feeling the dichotomy of strain and connection while under forced isolation. He has given me the gift of hearing other contributions in the same way. These are not disembodied voices. These are people who feel something meaningful and want to share it as part of something bigger than we are as individuals.

Hearing his voice also makes me re-experience the times we spent together during a stage of life when we were focused on our hopes and dreams.

It’s not easy to say goodbye. So, instead, I’ll say “Thank you, Jeremy. I’ll continue to see you in my dreams.”

And I’ll pick myself up, dust myself off, and continue my at bat with a sharper focus.