David Bowie, My Minister Of Strange

A woman lays flowers beside a mural of British singer David Bowie by artist Jimmy C in Brixton, south London, Tuesday, Jan. 1
A woman lays flowers beside a mural of British singer David Bowie by artist Jimmy C in Brixton, south London, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016. Bowie, the other-worldly musician who broke pop and rock boundaries with his creative musicianship, nonconformity, striking visuals and a genre-spanning persona he christened Ziggy Stardust, died of cancer Sunday aged 69. He was born in Brixton. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

David Bowie made me feel so much less alone and so much happier than I ever would have been without his existing. I miss knowing he's on the planet.

He was my minister of strange, my muse of alienation and made looking like an androgynous alien look classy, fun and ever so attainable.

Bowie has made my life richer and deeper. I owe an authentic goodbye to a person who taught me with his very existence that strange and imaginative could be not just embraced, but a celebrated way of life and a performance worth cheering.

Growing up in conservative rural Ohio with a non gender-binary name required balls I barely knew how to grow as a tween, and seeing Ziggy Stardust opened my eyes to an entire world of celebration, oddness, and creativity I desperately needed. I was still isolated and an odd little teenager, but I had Bowie to cling to, and I clung and hit repeat every chance I got.

The first time I saw Bowie in a movie, The Man Who Fell to Earth, I was 12 or 13, in the grips of major family illness and had little sense of how to deal with -- let's face it, existence itself. Bowie's performance as Thomas Jerome Newton absolutely blew my mind. How could a man who won my heart as Ziggy Stardust also be this naked alien hopping around reminding me of Dorian Gray?

Soon after I moved to Vermont to go to a small college of about 300 people, my college boyfriend killed himself. One of the things that got me through that horrible experience was listening to the Ziggy Stardust album on repeat. Someone else had seen real pain and eventually turned it into art, and made it to the other side, whatever that was supposed to look like.

I can hardly absorb his death. How can it be that Black Star is his last album? How can it be that this is all there is?

Black Star will be the last new album of Bowie's I'll ever buy, the last time I'll rip off that cellophane and absorb the rhythm of his music, I'm going to work at being not just heartbroken that he's gone, but ever so thankful that he existed at all.

I want to praise the fates and whatever strange forces brought this odd being to planet Earth, and yet I can't help but cry that he's left. Life really won't ever be the same without him, and yet his music is absolutely my light. Perhaps David Byrne said it best as he inducted David Bowie into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame:

Blessed be, you marvelous strange creature. I miss you already.