I’ve tried writing this several times tonight and the words keep failing me.
There is no good way to explain away how you feel when someone you’ve admired and damn near worshipped dies.
There have been people, people who happen to create, that I’ve really admired who have passed throughout the years. Not one I would say who really went deep inside my heart and soul in one way or another.
This morning I found out that one of my longtime idols-someone who I think about often, whose music I’ve listened to regularly for nearly 30 years, who has influenced the way I think, the way I express myself, and even my style- passed away yesterday from a many year struggle with MS & Breast Cancer. She was only 53.
To say that I felt like the world underneath me fell out for a moment sounds a bit dramatic, but to be honest it’s what it felt like this morning when I was informed by my husband who had read about it before me.
The woman who had mystified me and drew me in to her larger than life persona, glorified through her music & her videos in the early-mid 80’s, had just left this world.
I want to make this more of a tribute, I just don’t know how.
I’ve consumed enough wine tonight to dilute the tears that have been falling since this morning.
There is so much I could say, but so much that might not make sense. Sometimes loving one of your idols means that you cannot construct a proper goodbye. Or at least an understandable one.
Over the weekend I embarked on a project that was initially a blog post that I soon realized would end up being a 3-4 part post. This wonderful and astounding woman was to play a huge part of it.
In fact I was up until 2 am part writing, part drinking, part researching some facts. I found myself up late looking at some of her videos, and reading bits of what her life had been like the past few years. You hear so little since she had been ill. Which is understandable. When you have an illness(s) like she had you tend to either be a bit vocal about the brutality of it or you keep it to yourself.
For the most part it seemed she had done the latter.
From reports it appears she died that next day. Hours later. This devastates me in a way I can’t explain. She was in my head before I went to sleep. And many hours later she fell asleep for good.
I tried writing this earlier tonight with descriptions of everything she had done, giving you a play by play account of her career and some of what she opened up for me as a wide eyed 12 year old in the onset of the MTV years. This doesn’t seem right somehow. What I can do is give you why I loved her.
Christina(Chrissy) Amphlett of the Divinyls broke into our worlds, us children of those early 80’s, via our television sets with her (then) daring outfits and lyrics and attitude that showed how strong and tough a woman could be without losing her feminity. I was a wide eyed teen looking for someone to show me a different world, something that broke me out of the conformity of my middle-class suburb. Where I never quite felt like I belonged, where I knew there was more to believe in, more to get out of life. Her video persona I would learn years later was something so much different then who she really was. And a part of me was relieved. She had a shy side just like myself. But also a side that when needed knew to fight for what was believed in.
I admit it was her red hair and wide eyed pout that I imitated throughout the years. And even today, as recent as two weeks ago, when going back to red it was her picture I carried with me to my salon. 30 years later she’s still my icon of beauty and power that I look up to.
In the early 90’s the rest of the U.S. finally paid attention to what I had seen those years before. That’s when the band had their first breakout hit. Unfortunately the song wasn’t taken seriously and is considered to some to be a one hit wonder, which if you know the band well you know that isn’t the case. There is so much depth & strength to the songs they have written throughout the years. I remember when the song came out(I Touch Myself, for those who don’t remember) I had the fortunate experience of friends pointing out I looked like Chrissy. I remember thinking that was the greatest compliment I could get.
Several years later the Divinyls disbanded. I was still a fan.
Then about ten years later I read that Chrissie was diagnosed with MS. Knowing someone who has MS, you feel as if you’re part of a special club. MS is an illness so mysterious in symptoms and progression that only those of us who have it understand it fully, coming across another person who has it immediately leaves you with the feeling that you know that person.
For me to find out that Chrissy had MS, something I had been diagnosed with since the early 90’s & probably had for years prior, felt somewhat terrifying and calming. Here was someone that I grew up loving and admiring. Who to me was the epitome of strength, who helped me during the early years of trying to figure out who I was, and trying to figure out how to be a young woman, she had this bitch of a disease that I had been dealing with for decades. We were alike. And if I had my way I would have reached out to her to help HER, because I knew what it was to deal with this damn thing for so long I no longer felt like a stranger to it.
But she was untouchable. Then I read she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Then 2 yrs ago I sat in my Neuro’s office and came across a copy of Neurology magazine and she was on the cover. I sat reading the article, contemplating stealing the issue to take home. My good side won out and I couldn’t do it. Right now? I’m wishing I had it on me. Because that day reading it I felt a bit more empowered to soldier on. I was feeling down on myself for having a setback, a flare. She gave me some hope.
So this morning my husband told me the news and I dropped what I was holding and could barely speak, I walked to the computer to look and saw the news.
All day I constructed sentences in my head of what I wanted to write. I knew I had to write something. But by the time I sat down here it all washed away.
All I know is that my heart hurts tonight because someone who had done so much, been through so much, and touched so many people is gone. Way too soon.
I’ve sat here tonight listening to her songs on repeat. There are too many songs of hers I could list as being my favorite, however the one that really cuts through my heart is the song “Human on The Inside”. To this day I have a dream of performing this song live. However no one will ever compare to Chrissy.
Goodnight Chrissy Amphlett. I’m glad you were in my life all these years. And even though you’ve left the earth, you’ve still managed to touch so many people, and through your words and your beautiful voice you’ll continue to do so.