Thirty Years Later: Remembering the Day John Lennon Died

Three decades after the musician's death, an iVillage editor reflects on the impact the Beatle had on her as a 12-year-old

It was 30 years ago today that the world lost one of its most inspiring icons, John Lennon, and it seems like we are still feeling his absence. Today, mourners of all ages are gathering in his hometown of Liverpool, England, and in New York’s Central Park, close to the Dakota apartment building where he lived and was shot. They’ll mark the occasion with flowers, candles and no doubt, by singing some songs about love.

On the Today show's website, they asked viewers to share their memories of that sad day, and that got me thinking about the 12-year-old girl I was back then. I actually learned of John’s death not on Dec. 8 -- he was pronounced dead at 11:07 p.m., past my bedtime -- but the next morning. I heard it on the radio while breakfast was being made. My grandmother was matter of fact about it, clucking her tongue and saying, "Such a shame." I felt as though my world collapsed and was so emotionally distraught over the news that I convinced her I had to stay home from school that day.

You see, in December 1980, I was already going through a "Beatles phase," which included roller-skating around the basement while listening to the White Album over and over again. John was always my favorite Beatle, not just because he was the handsome, witty bad boy, but also because we shared a birthday, Oct. 9. This was not a happy school year for me: My mom was separating from my stepfather, and I had changed schools yet again that September. Losing myself in my LP collection was one of my few escapes.

So when John Lennon was taken down by Mark David Chapman’s bullet, I felt as though I had lost someone personally close to me. My feminine adolescent emotions were already piquing, so you can imagine how dramatic I was. No one in my family understood -- and that was fine, because they really weren’t supposed to. As the months passed, I continued to devour all of Lennon’s music, and pasted Annie Leibowitz’s haunting Rolling Stone photograph –- shot the morning of his death –- all over my room. Luckily, a Ouija board helped me communicate directly with John, and he gave me lots of good advice on dealing with my parents, boys and how to channel my growing suburban angst into something creative.

Eventually, my obsession with John Lennon faded. Now I am older than he was when he died, which blows my mind. Today, I will take a moment to thank him for all that he gave us -- and how in 1980 he helped a 12-year-old girl imagine life outside her small world.

Do you remember hearing about John Lennon’s death? Chime in below!

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