Singer Robin Rogers passed away yesterday at age 55. Rogers was diagnosed with inoperable liver cancer in August. Her album Back In The Fire was released earlier this year and has been a staple on the charts since its release. She was nominated this week for a Blues Music Award in the Contemporary Blues Female category and was interviewed recently on NPR.
The blues community is small and tight knit and in my capacity as a freelance writer I’ve had the unbelievable opportunity to meet or interact with many artists and some great professionals who work with them. I never met Rogers but have met and talked to people who knew her and knew her well. I’m by no means at the center of the blues community but some wonderful artists and people have made me feel a small part of it and today I’m sad to know that one of us, someone who meant a great deal to many people around the world, has left us far too soon.
We often here it described that someone has lost their battle with cancer after the illness claims another life. It’s an apt description on some level as it reflects the progressive nature of the disease. The husband of a co-worker passed away last year following a grueling treatment process against a rare, aggressive kind of cancer. He wrote about his experiences as he went through that process, as did his family and friends and one of them reflected on what it meant to “beat cancer.” To most of us, beating it likely means sending it into remission and living as normal a life as life allows. Our instinct will always be to cling to life and to see life as victory, death as defeat, but one of this man’s loved ones had a different idea. He considered the passing a manner of victory over the disease. He didn’t lose his battle because he was finally free from it.
I had never thought about it in those terms before but I like it. Death is a separation from the living and those who remain will always feel a sense of loss and in those times it seems impossible to feel anything but defeat. Robin’s friends and loved ones will miss her for the rest of their lives but in their loss a measure of victory has been won. Robin Rogers is cancer free now. Her pain and worry are things of the past. The manner in which she touched so many feels today a source of sorrow but while she was with them it was a source of joy and it can be again. Her husband, partner, and caregiver Tony, her many friends, family, and those who knew her only through her music would give anything to have her company again even if just for a short while and it always seems hollow to talk about how people live on even after they’ve left but it is true at the most profound level.
The impact we leave on one another isn’t visible or tangible. The love we share is always something experienced, felt, and cherished in an invisible way. Love is its own power source and it exists within each of us and flows through all of us. The unseen impact of that doesn’t leave with a loved one. It remains, unchanged by the condition of living or dying. The most important thing we can do is to make sure our love isn’t cherished in an unspoken way.