In Memoriam: Dolores O’Riordan

In numerology, the number 46 is constantly evolving. The spark which fuels its dynamism comes from the foundation it stands on; constructed from strength and purpose, it is abundant.

This spring of renewal and hope was shattered with the news yesterday that Dolores O’Riordan- lead singer of the Cranberries- had passed at the age of 46. Because while that number is a great many things to a great many people, it doesn’t seem fair that it’s the one she goes out on.

It was the spring of 1993 when I was first introduced to the Irish born singer. I was engaged to be married and the jitters were catching up with me; making me even that much crankier than my usual self. I was working with my best friend Emie, who had become my spiritual guru during this time. She was my running partner, my drinking pal and a much needed voice on the other end of the line.

As far as music went, we had differences. But that never stopped her from attempting to turn me onto new stuff whenever she got the chance. And so it was that we were refinishing a great big old library bookcase when she introduced me to O’Riordan.

“You’re gonna love this,” Emie promised.

It took all of thirty seconds for me to rebut her musical offering.

“What is this?” I asked.

“The Cranberries . . . good right?” Emie replied.

“Well it’s not my kind of music,” I sniffed, after which Emie proceeded to play it on a loop in the event I might reconsider.

And over the years I reconsidered my opinion, wholly and much. That voice, it stirred something up deep inside of me, as if a language whose profound mysteries I needed to learn. And O’Riordan would become my kind of music, out of the sheer strength of her mezzo soprano voice and those magical lyrics born in County Limerick.

Her talents contributed peace and hope to a locality in desperate need of it. Her voice was bigger than the town she grew up in and it was bigger than all those small, war torn towns she played in as a new voice to the scene. When her debut album hit- Everybody Else Is Doing It So Why Can’t We?- so began the trajectory for a young woman whose imprint would be felt around the globe. In time, her voice would become bigger than the world she blessed it to.

Her linger will not go softly into that dark night. It will roar and feast on the void it has left, leaving us with all of the strength and purpose within. In the here and now, though, it will be a haunting reminder.

The angels always win.