REMEMBERING MY MERMAID
4/20 Is Tough For Me.
I remember the 2019 call from my friend Dr. Keith Ablow like it was yesterday “Can I send over some music from a patient of mine for you to listen to?”
Of course I obliged and listened. They were just rough demos of original songs from a young lady called Ohana Haas. Very rough. But I heard something in them and when I eventually spoke to her, I heard a very special, sweet spirit and made the decision to work with her on launching a career.
The first order of business was to make a record, which I produced, summoning a first-class team of musicians and the great Christopher Makos serving as art director. I made sure to surround her with the very best, and it worked, though it took a while.
Like me, sweet Ohana struggled with mental health issues that limited her. She was also very shy, so we were only able to do a little at a time and that kept me in New York and New Jersey a good bit. She was a dream to work with, however, along with her loving and beautiful family at her side, and we connected in the studio like I have never connected with anyone. She became like a little sister to me. It became a very, very personal thing for me, as we all grew incredibly close. “You’ve kept her alive,” I’ll never forget her loving father telling me. That was heavy. We were all about our little mermaid (she fancied herself a mermaid. It was incredibly sweet).
The record was released on December 1, 2019. Her 21st birthday. We celebrated with a beautiful dinner in Manhattan with the whole crew, and the future for Ohana looked pretty great. The record was a winner, she was in high spirits which was theretofore atypical, and we were all just so proud of what we had done. Again, it was not easy but it was rewarding.
Little did I know on that ebullient evening that in just months I would be eulogizing her.
It was on this day 2020 that I got another call that unfortunately I will never forget. It was Ohana’s mother, Sandy. There had been a freak accident in the home — a fall — and our Mermaid was suddenly gone. It was possibly the most jarring moment of my life. She was so young, so beautiful, so sweet, so much promise. And in a lot of pain, which was heartbreaking. I just couldn’t believe it. Here’s more on her story, which I hope you will take a look at. I had been sober and I immediately reached for a drink. There was no other option at that moment.
Her celebration of life was love-filled. Like I said, I gave a eulogy — the first I’ve ever given — and it was straight from the heart. It took a bit of tequila but I think I honored her fairly well.
We went on to posthumously remix some of her unreleased material and there’s a book of her poetry in the works as I understand it. I’ve lost touch with the family, whom I will always love deeply, because it was just taking too much of an emotional toll on me. But I know they are honoring her in many good and productive ways, spreading the word about mental health awareness and the need for it to be taken more seriously. And if that is Ohana’s legacy — helping the cause — then that’s a pretty good one.
I miss you, little Mermaid. And I love you.
4/20 will always suck for me. Just like 3/1 (Andrew Breitbart) and 3/25 (mum). These days sting.