John’s Last Days
by Yoko Ono Lennon (Spring 2004)
It was getting very good. One afternoon I was out alone for some business and, on my way home, bought a small bag of chocolates for John. I went up the elevator to our floor, and the door to our apartment opened before I got my key out. John was standing with a big smile.
‘How did you know I was coming up just now?’ I asked.
‘I don’t know. I just knew,’ he said.
‘And this is your chocolate,’ I said. ‘I thought it’s all right that you cheat once in a while.’
‘Great!’ ‘It’s getting pretty good, isn’t it?’
‘Yeah, it’s getting pretty good.’
I don’t remember which one of us said that first, I just remember how we kept looking at each other. John was shot to death in front of our apartment building very soon after that day.
Things were going smoothly for us, though with a little deep rumbling noise inside our souls. Something was scaring us that we could not put our fingers on. We had just finished making an album together called Double Fantasy, which was an album of a dialogue between men and women. This album was made with the idea that we wanted to share with the world the difficulty of men and women in the relationship that we went through and came out of insisting to carry a sometimes very painful but truthful dialogue between us. That probably saved us from losing the most precious thing we had: each other. ‘Amazing,’John said. ‘It’s better after many years. Nobody thinks that. We have to tell them.’
That week, the last week for him on earth, he was planning to fly to the West Coast with me and Sean and join the Equal Pay for Asians demonstration, and also join Cesar Chavez and the labor union to make a human-rights statement for migrant farm workers. We already had our suitcases packed. ‘I’m going to stand there with my Asian wife, holding my Eurasian son in my arms,’ he said cheerfully.
For John, it was always important that he reached out his hands to help the people in need and shared the information he got with the world: the truth. There was not one human issue he was not caring about. He spoke freely of what the Blue Meanies were doing to us and the world. That had its price. He was attacked at every turn. But he still went on being amazingly and dangerously truthful. If there was such a thing as fate, this was his. He was obsessed about saying what he wanted to say. His delivery was succinct and powerful.
I feel that he literally risked his life to tell the truth on behalf of the world.
His heart was as big as the universe. Most of us cannot be that truthful without fearing for our lives, especially now. I’d like you to listen to his words, again, if you have a chance. It will give you power.
When he died, the sky became gray. It snowed on his vigil, as if the sky was crying with us. But that ten minutes of silence throughout the world we held together created the strongest ring on this planet, and made us all family. It is still there if you care to recall and receive the benefit of its power: The power of love.
I love you.
Yoko Ono Lennon
First published in Rolling Stone Magazine, June 24 2004