My connection to Dave Navarro and his art goes back 30 years now. It was in 1988, at age 14, that I was introduced to Jane’s Addiction. Dave’s guitar playing was a perfect blend of metallic and artistic, and I couldn’t get enough of it (even to this day). After viewing the documentary ‘Mourning Son’ by Dave and Todd Newman, the connection I feel has shifted to a different gear, and it has absolutely nothing to do with music.
‘Mourning Son’ tells the story of Dave’s mother being brutally murdered by her ex-boyfriend in March of 1983 when Dave was just 15 years old. Also shown in graphic detail is the way he attempted to cope with this unthinkable loss, by turning to serious drug use to numb the pain. Eventually, through therapy, art, and focusing on all the positive attributes of his mother and his relationship with her, he was able to cope in a much healthier and peaceful way. I knew about this documentary for nearly 3 years before I gathered the courage to watch it, simply because I wasn’t sure if I could face it due to my own life story.
Just 2 months after Connie Navarro’s untimely death, my mother, Fran, was confined to our couch. I was 9 years old, and I was unable to make sense of why my mother was hallucinating, speaking about nonsensical things, and looking like a shell of the Mom that I knew. I did know that at times I heard her on the phone speaking quietly about tranquilizers, and allegations of my father cheating, being seen with another woman, etc. But at that young age, I was unable to process or make sense of any of this. All I knew was that things were bad, and I was terrified.
I came home from school one day, walked through the front door, and the first thing I saw was my Mom with her eyes rolled back in her head, seemingly speaking in tongues. Everything felt like it was in slow motion. The neighbor from across the street came running in the house, carried her to his car (knocking our coffee table over in the process). I stood there, silent and stunned, with my bookbag still slung over my shoulders. That was the last time I ever saw her alive. She was in intensive care, and because of my age, I was told I was not allowed to see her. She passed away overnight.
I have never known anyone else who lost a parent at a young age. So watching Dave in ‘Mourning Son’ was, in a way, like looking in a mirror. The way he looked when talking about his mother is the way I feel when thinking about mine. And those feelings have been unresolved for all these years, simply because the way my family chose to deal with her death was to ignore everything and basically try to never speak about her again. ‘Mourning Son’ helped me realize that I am not alone. Even though the circumstances were different in terms of the way these two women were taken away, there certainly are some similarities. It also taught me to try to focus on the positive aspects of my short relationship with my Mom, rather than focus on the manner and circumstances under which she was taken away. For these reasons, I am grateful to Dave for making this documentary. I now look at him as so much more than one of my musical heroes. And as if it wasn’t already special, the guitar pick he threw to me in 2016 with his mother’s portrait on it has taken on a whole new level of importance to me.