Oh Leonard

I thought I had no tears left to shed, but I was wrong. I thought I couldn’t be sadder, lonelier, more scared for this world, but I was wrong. That was yesterday.

My Dad had an audiocassette in his car. And Future was on it. And I knew no English then, just what my two years of weekly visits to a small dusty flat of an old Jewish lady tutoring me gave me. I would catch pronouns, and I knew the word. I knew nothing of the world, but I felt it was just a bit more beautiful from your velvet voice.

Will I be more bitter now, Leonard? There is a shard of ice in my chest. And my heart bleeds like on the cover of your album. Will I feel even more broken now, Leonard?

You were the half of what I knew of Canada when I accepted the offer to come to my – now – home country eight years ago. The hot Mountie with a wolf for a dog from Due South being the other.

Will I cry less now, Leonard? I cry every time you release a new album. It’s my catharsis and my prayer, Leonard. You Want It Darker was beautiful, Leonard. Thank you for the pure, scorching tears I shed, and felt cleansed, and alive.

Please, Leonard, not today. Why today?

Your portrait hangs in the bookstore in my city. I threw a look at it when I walked to my book launch, and I gave you a grateful nod. I will never write like you, I smiled. Thank you, Leonard. For the beauty I felt, without envy. For the clarity, and the soul.

I had played your songs to my students in Russia. They looked at me in confusion – those 18 year old Russian girls, for whom none of it made sense, and probably still doesn’t – but hell with it, Leonard, I swear to you, you made them just a bit better. Feeling better. Better people.

Your songs are in my every playlist, Leonard. I write a bit, you know? Nothing serious. Nothing I would ever show to you. But there is a song by you somewhere there, for every kiss I wrote, for every tear a character shed, for every Thorin, for every Wren. For every death, for every resurrection, for a dance, and a fight. You’ve been there, with each sentence. Well, perhaps, with each chapter. Wren loves you, and every John does.

Goodbye, Leonard.

You do know, Leonard, how much you are loved?

When my parents came to Canada – a big event, I know; sarcasm, you taught me sarcasm as well – my wonderful husband said, “Leonard Cohen is coming. You should take your Dad to the concert. He is his favourite singer, isn’t he?”

I’ve never seen my Father’s face like that. I could write a book of what you gave me that night, Leonard; and feeling my Father’s daughter and the closeness to the reserved elegant man sitting near me that night would be among all those blessings.

Do you hear me, Leonard?

I loved my husband at that moment so much, when he was ordering tickets.

I had listened to Letters hundreds of times when my first boyfriend broke my heart.

I danced to your Dance Me to the End of Love in my underwear in the tiny rented flat in St. Petersburg.

I will listen to your Amen tonight.

Goodbye, Leonard? But how can I say goodbye?


  1. “The broken-hearted many
    the open-hearted few
    And no one knows where the night is going”
    As much as I mourn the passing of yet another icon of (pop) song culture, I do appreciate their influence on our lives with their lyrics and their music, making the world a better place. We are all bound to die, eventually, but until then, there are myriads of ways to make this world a better place and to honor humanity.
    Love, A.

    1. Personally I’m usually rather accepting and ‘Zen’ about passing of celebrities, no matter how much I admired their work, and how much their art influenced me. I of course feel very sad – that there will be no more songs, or films, or books. But you’re right, we all will die. So, when Rickman and Bowie were gone, I took trips down the memory lane, rewatched films, listened to the music, pondered what they meant personally to me, and the sadness was light.

      But I was surprised myself how affected I was at the news of Cohen passing. It was the timing, perhaps. It just felt that the world was ending, that democracy (or at least efforts towards it) was over, and the lyrics of his songs truly resonated with me.

      “From the wars against disorder
      From the sirens night and day
      From the fires of the homeless
      From the ashes of the gay
      Democracy is coming to the USA”

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