“If you ever lose someone dear to you, never say the words ‘they’re gone’ … they’ll come back, yeah.”
My husband wrote those lyrics in 1997 after the loss of our son, Amiir. The first time I heard “Comeback,” which he recorded at Paisley Park, my heart fell. The beauty and power of the song deeply moved me but at the time, it was too raw and for me, too soon. Writing the song allowed him to grieve about Amiir in a way that was difficult for him to do in person, even with me, his wife. But music was his refuge. It’s what he knew how to do — what he had to do — as an artist.
And people loved him for it. I’ve had the chance to meet so many of his fans over the years — his “fam” as he called them, short for family, of course, because to Prince, they were. They were much more to him than simply “fans” or “admirers.” I believe they always felt that.
And they returned that love right back, tenfold. Prince was beloved and revered in a way that few artists ever have been or likely ever will be. Online communities dedicated to his music and to his art are thriving. He was selling out shows and touring relentlessly up until his last days.
I’d started out as an admirer of Prince the artist myself — first as a kid dancing to “Purple Rain” on the radio along with the rest of the world, then years later as a dancer, when I was lucky enough to meet him backstage at a concert. We became pen-pals and friends and I got to know the man. As beautiful as the artist was, I realized that the man was even more so. Many people felt that Prince wanted to remain a mystery but when I was with him, he wanted something else: to share our love and start a family. Those aren’t mysterious things. It’s what most of us want.
This month, on the one-year since his all-too-soon passing, and with all the media surrounding the anniversary, I wanted to, in some small way, leave an impression of light and of love, which is what he was. Prince was many things: an artist, an amazing friend, the love of my life and family. I wanted to write a love letter to his legacy. Mystery is often cloaked in darkness. I wanted to share the light.
No one could make me laugh like that man. His personal pranks are legendary. He was also the guy who stole the pants out of my closet and had them altered to fit him (and left me with high-waters!). He loved to spend hours talking about the nature of truth, the universe and past lives with me. He was a generous artist who always tried to lift up other, less-established artists and give them opportunities to see and be seen. And he was, of course, a musical genius. That’s indisputable.
I broke my silence this month to talk about my time with Prince for one reason: I wanted to make sure something beautiful came out of his story (and our story together). If you look at his music, you will see the dimensions of this special man. He laid it all bare for us to understand, in his lyrics and in his melodies.
None of us can stay in this world forever, but in his music and his singular art, Prince has left a legacy that will live on for centuries to come. In this way, he will always be with us.
“Never say the words “they’re gone” … they’ll come back, yeah.”
— Mayte Garcia April 21, 2017
Mayte Garcia was married to Prince from 1996 to 2000, and they had one son together, Amiir. She is the author of the New York Times best-selling book about their life together, The Most Beautiful: My Life With Prince.
A version of this article originally appeared on Billboard.com.