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Phoebe Snow’s death stirs memories

It was 1974. My heart had been broken for the first time at age 19, and I sometimes babysat my niece, Nichole, and I'd put on Phoebe Snow's new self-titled album with its sad and haunting single “Poetry Man” and pace the living room of my sister's house holding Nichole and crying.

It was my first real experience with that grief unique to first heartbreak, and I didn't know how I would ever be happy again. Snow sang my despair.

The singer died today from a brain hemorrhage, according to a Los Angeles Times story.

Her life after fame was hard and tragic. Her daughter was born with severe brain damage in 1975 and died in 2007.

I found some conflicting information regarding her age. The Times story says she was 60. The CNN story says she was 58. According to many websites she was born in July 1952, which makes 58 the accurate age.

When I heard the news this morning on NPR, they played “Poetry Man” in the background and I was back in my sister's living room 37 years ago, filled with grief.

Today, I was sorry that a woman, not much older than me now, struggled so throughout what seems to me like a short life.

Her music was way beyond its years. It  was the symphony of grief and loss to come. For her. And an entire generation. 

(Associated Press photo)

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Writer Catherine Johnston of Olympia, Wash., addresses issues facing aging baby boomers and seniors as well as issues of serious illness, death and dying, grief and loss.

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