I called you Billy sometimes, mainly when it felt right. But mostly I called you Dad. Even from our first hello. I let you know this now, as I sit here so many years later and you are gone from me until who knows when.
Through the years, we shared so many amazing moments. Good, bad and yes, ugly. But that's life, and I respect yours more than you will ever know. You inspired me to be more than who I thought I could be. You made me proud of where I came from. You amazed me with your intelligence, your artistic integrity and your view of the universe. All those times I came to see you at Darby's, or the "Dusty Skull," I would sit, gripped by what you were. So proud you were my dad. I only ever wanted to be half the man you were, and I was young enough to still have experienced a formative impact by your examples of innate kindness and wisdom.
We also shared some of those rare moments of fate and timing that only a few would appreciate. Touring the bridge of the Starship Enterprise during our first days together, with me in the Captain's chair, (Which, after a brief moment of locked eyes and an unspoken, "Who's gonna sit in the chair" stare-down, you gave to me) and you then sitting in Data's, where you turned to me and said, "Course laid in, Captain." And I naturally replied, almost missing the beat, "Engage."
When you gave me my gold heart with wings (which I then tattooed on my shoulder after a broken heart over some girl). The time I rented the 35-inch television and had the poor guy from the TV store haul it up the steps of your attic apartment to watch the newly remastered versions of the Star Wars trilogy. Little things like that now are some of my fondest memories with you. But mostly, Dad, I remember your presence. So much like mine — and so vastly different. We never had it normal, did we? But I think we were just too cosmic a coupling for it to be any other way. I remember so many things... I could go on, I'm sure, forever about the time we had each other. But right now, I just want you to know a few things .
I think, in my heart, you get it all now. I think you understand me and where I tried to fit in with your life. I think you always did. But knowing you the way I do (from our time spent together, and also from my gut and as a very kindred spirit), I also will forever realize this world was just too damn hard for you to deal with sometimes.
It is for all of us, Dad, and we all understand. You were not the dark person you thought you were. Well, maybe a little, but not in the way you often thought. You were, in fact, exactly the talent you knew you were. You were liked by all, and we all saw your unfathomable spirit whenever you entered the room. You truly were majestic on all fronts. So strong a spirit, for what became of the body you inhabited.
But it was those few quiet moments you and I shared that I will always cherish the most. Just hanging out in your apartment over cowboy-coffee and Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. Sometimes Del and I both were there, and it was the only time I felt like I really came from somewhere that I could point to and say, "Oh, now I get it." Whether you realized it toward the end, Dad, you were the world to me on so many levels. You were my father at times, my brother at others, and my fellow human in the "Loose Change" department.
But mainly, when we had the time, you were my friend. You came out of your guarded walls long enough to be that to me, and I thank you for it. For all of it. I thank you for being there for me those times you were able to. I thank you for just being alive, and really, Bill — and not only for me — sincerely for giving this sometimes very, very dark world, something so pure and filled with light: your voice, your craftsmanship, and your contribution to the betterment of humankind through your music. Among the most beautiful that will ever be heard in this lifetime or any other.
I want to just get ready to sign off now, Dad. For now. I wanted to let you know how sad I am that you're gone. Truly heartbroken. I miss you so much right now, it's killing me like nothing I have ever known. I miss you, Dad. Please be okay now. Please be at peace. Please know you are so very loved by all of us. Please know you are so loved forever by me. I am so lucky I had you in my life.
I can't believe you're gone. But I understand it on a broader plane, man. And I am also glad. I am relieved there is no more pain for you. That you are free from those canes. From that tank. From the constant reminders of how hard you've had it. Honestly, I think you went out with a lot of courage. And dignity. For everything you went through these last years, you remained who you were.
Don't worry Dad, you did just fine. No one said it would be easy. But you didn't deserve it as hard as you had it. I think now, in the end, you are free.
And I will always love you with every warm thought and every good memory and every special place in my heart I can ever make room for. I will always remember your shining spirit burning through. I will always remember you as you will always be to me — that guy up on stage, captivating my soul. You were my Hero.
— Your son, Travis, "T" and yes... Your "Luke"
Note: A special thank-you to Bob Cowsill for giving permission to reprint Travis's letter. You can find it, along with many other heartfelt messages from all over the world, on Billy Cowsill's Memorial Book at www.cowsill.com.