Melanie Bullock is a marketing and branding strategist, entertainment executive, budding blogger, and lover of all things Prince. Born in Rocky Mount, N.C., she currently lives in Los Angeles. Her brother, Eric Bullock, is a videographer based out of Raleigh, N.C.
"Dearly beloved, we're gathered here today to get through this thing called life."
For all of us Prince fans, there was "normal" life, where all was well.
And then there was the morning of April 21.
A world without Prince and none of us were prepared.
I spent Wednesday, April 20 in Las Vegas with one of my big brothers, Eric.
The one who introduced me to Prince and his music. We were hanging out for the evening and our entertainment of choice was the "Purple Reign," a Prince cover show at the Westgate.
I love me some Prince. We sang at the top of our lungs, clapped, stood up and danced, and reveled in the atmosphere of the Purple One.
Even with a cover performance, the essence of Prince took over.
After the show, we talked and took pictures with "Prince/Jay," and lamented that they were out of t-shirts before we made our way back to the hotel.
We played a few tables, laughed and talked the evening away.
And then came the morning of April 21.
I had an early morning conference call, so was up fairly early for a morning in Vegas.
Before getting on my call, I read a few conversations on Prince fan websites about a death at Paisley Park. My breath was caught in my throat for a second.
I checked TMZ. No confirmation that it was Prince.
For all I knew, he wasn't even there.
Life was still normal.
As soon as I finished my conference call, my phone rang. It was a friend frantically telling me that Prince died. I reassured her and begged her not to worry as it had not been confirmed.
Another call came in. Then a text: “Is it true?"
I didn’t know what to say, but my calm reserve was now shaken. I texted back that it had not been confirmed yet. As soon as I typed those words, it was confirmed.
Life was now utterly and completely different.
People are asking me how I am. I'm shell-shocked and devastated. Life is moving in slow motion. Can I breathe? What's happening right now?
And then Eric walks in the room. And I tell him. We are in shock wondering if it's true.
My phone is ringing off the hook, but I'm not in the mood to really speak.
Text messages start to pour in. I can answer a few, but I'm numb. How can this be real?
I mean like real, real?
Like I will never become Prince's third wife and have short brown kids with brown eyes real?
Eric’s phone was blowing up too. People know his connection to Prince.
Prince is like family. People are concerned.
“Is he OK?”
“Is it true?”
People are looking to him for answers. My brother. But there are no answers.
We're checking all the news channels. Eric makes a few calls. People are sending us condolences, and I need them. I am in mourning. Instant and all-consuming mourning.
Prince's music spoke to every part of my life.
He sang "Take Me With U" to me at a concert in Greensboro, N.C. once.
When he did it, of course I thought Prince couldn't possibly be singing to me. But he made sure to let me know he was.
He pointed to me and said, "You! What do YOU want to do?"
I yelled "TAKE U WITH ME!”
"That's what I thought,” he said. Then he gave me his sly, flirty laugh and seemingly floated away.
Eric worked closely with him and would often call and tease me saying, “Prince is right here, do you want to speak to him.”
I would laugh it off, but it wasn't a joke, His Royal Badness was indeed, right there.
I thought about the time I was going to be in the background of a Prince video in Los Angeles.
I was there for hours, as part of his fan club. But Prince didn't use us that day.
He did, however, come in to personally apologize.
He walked in the room and called us to him. I was standing slightly behind him to his right. As he was talking to us, we made eye contact, I smiled at him.
He lost his train of thought for a moment and I giggled. He continued to apologize and seemingly floated away.
One of Prince's long-time friends is in town. Eric calls him and he comes to our hotel. We go out to eat - because that's what you do right?
And I'm just sitting there in the restaurant, listening to my brother and his friend recount personal stories with Prince. Man, can this become even sadder?
Eric says to his friend, "My sister is really sad, tell her something else about Prince.”
Then the stories and laughter flows.
I ask a few questions, but mostly just listen.
The stories are interrupted by phone calls and texts to the friend, who repeats with a heavy heart, "I lost my friend today."
But he celebrates by speaking through his grief and telling how Prince changed his life.
I'm still sad and Prince is still gone.
But I'm with my brother who introduced me to Prince and with Prince's close family friend.
And I'm just a little bit consoled.
But in that moment, God, the universe, or whatever force you believe in, made sure I was taken care of by people who also love Prince.
It was a celebration of life and the music will keep playing.
To Prince, I wish you Heaven.