I Miss Mac Miller

I remember exactly where I was when I found out Mac Miller died. I was sinking into a leather recliner, enjoying a mundane day off as I awaited my little brother to come home from school. My mind was rotting on a game of NBA 2K, a lousy excuse to disconnect from reality and listen to my music. As I slouched deeper into a dead stare at the TV, I flip my phone off the sidearm of the chair to see what time it was. I needed to be outside to wait for the bus stop. The notification I received haunts me still: Mac died.

The controller I intensely gripped lifelessly slipped off my fingertips. My phone stumbled into the pits of the recliner. I rocked back and forth instinctually, my mind frozen and my eyes burning. After several minutes of spirit-breaking anxiety, I ghostly drifted down the stairs to wait outside, not processing the reality of the situation. ‘Ain’t no fucking way,’ and ‘this gotta be a fucked up joke’ circled my brain as the Texas sun relentlessly beamed on me. Holding my composure while walking home was the hardest part. My little brother recounted his day, how his recess went, what he had for lunch, and the limited amount of information he learned from his teachers that day. Those moments vividly saw me looking into oblivion, as if I was withering away whatever courage I had to live. He shoots for the restroom for a while to leave me stuck with my thoughts again: Mac fuckin’ died.

I plugged my earbuds in and searched for Swimming. “Come Back To Earth” plays and I fell to my knees and cried. I couldn’t comprehend how he could leave. His lyrics swirled my head as I lamented a hero. He searched for a way out of his head while I was imprisoned in mine. “And I was drownin’ but now I’m swimmin’ through stressful waters to relief.” All I could muster up the energy to say was “why the fuck aren’t you here?” In some selfish sense, I felt like he should’ve been here for me. “How could you have left me? You were just here.” His art provided relief. His spirit invited comfort. He was gearing up for tour at that point. The stage was the perfect place to express his newfound freedom. I stared at the sky and yelled at God. “What the fuck is wrong with you?”

I spent the following hours searching for solace in blankets, isolation, and Mac’s words. I scrolled Twitter to see what were on people’s minds, to tirelessly find out what happened to Mac. I found out about the drug overdose. I saw how Ariana Grande reacted. I saw his closest friends react how I did. Fans talked about their favorite songs and how much he meant to them. I found sanctuary in those who felt how I did. “2009” was on repeat the whole time. Every time the strings weeped its tears, I felt a boulder drop on me. I was battered and scarred by the grim reaper’s scythe. The following weeks recalled Earl Sweatshirt’s “Solace,” “You could see it in my face, I ain’t been eatin’, I’m just wastin away.” All I could think about was how Mac had so many more years to live. But Mac died.

I remember when I first discovered Mac Miller. The blog era is still a glaring gap in my music discovery so it was his debut album Blue Slide Park that hooked me. It’s probably not my favorite for many of the same reasons J Cole and Drake didn’t have amazing debuts. As I became more aware of Mac, Blue Slide Park wasn’t always as potent an introduction as K.I.D.S. was. Still, I loved it at the time, one of the albums I cherished as a pre-teen who used Spotify for the first time in 2012. I played “Missed Calls” every time I even felt remotely gloomy. “PA Nights” and “Under The Weather” showed a blossoming young star goofing around and being himself. Ultimately, that’s what made me a fan of Mac Miller — his contagious spirit.

I kept following Mac and his career, my eyes widening at how creative and different he wass with his follow up Watching Movies with the Sound Off. I bawled my eyes out to “Objects in the Mirror.” I found a dark sanctuary in “The Star Room” and “I Am Who Am (Killin’ Time).” “S.D.S.” and “Red Dot Music” crept into the playlists I played walking through school hallways and riding in the backseat with my family. I watched him goof off with his friends on Mac Miller and the Most Dope Family. I don’t know if he was ever my favorite rapper. 2012, I was obsessed with Capital Steez, Joey Bada$$ and Chief Keef. Isaiah Rashad’s music hit closer to home as a Southern kid trying to figure out his mental health situation. But that was never important. More than anything, I felt Mac Miller. His infectious smiles lit up my life. He communicated feelings I didn’t fully understand but I comprehended emotionally where he was coming from. His genuine, giving nature made him someone I endlessly admired.

I still can’t believe it’s been 3 years since Mac passed away. In a sense, it feels like it was just yesterday since I got the news. The wounds are still raw. Time still races without us regardless of how ready we are to accept reality. In another sense, it feels like an eternity since he left us. I feel like I’ve sat with this grief for ages. Darkness and grief has a tendency to warp time. Every year since Mac passed, it seems like someone I grew up watching or someone I knew leaves every week now. Time continues to grind up memories and spit them out with no regard for your well being. Recounting “Solace” again, “Time waits for no man and death waits with cold hands.”

It’s very easy for me to get caught in the tragedy of Mac Miller’s life. But I found more power in how he made other people feel. How Thundercat and Ty Dolla Sign lamented their fallen brother. Or Vince Staples continuously sharing how much Mac meant to his growth as an artist and, more importantly, what he meant to him as a close friend. Even the most apathetic could fall to their knees knowing someone who led with such a pure spirit could wither away in front of us. Genuine people are the most magnetic. It’s no wonder why so many people fell in love with who he was as a person. I’ve spent my whole life following his footsteps. All that I could ever hope for in life is to be genuine and good to people like he did. Make an impact on others like he did. I’m eternally grateful for the example Mac left behind so I could lead with the same unconditional love he gave to others. I miss Mac man.

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I get real nerdy about music and other things

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Caleb Catlin

Caleb Catlin

I get real nerdy about music and other things

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