She writes about the first time she visited George at his home, Friar Park, staying in Hawaii, the night they heard about John Lennon’s death, their almost-deadly 1999 home invasion, and her childhood. It’s all the good and bad with moments of intimacy sprinkled in.
The most important part of Came the Lightening is Olivia’s reflection on George’s 2001 death. In the opening poem, “Another Spring,” she writes about wanting another spring with her husband as he dies. This leads to the meaning of the title of the new poetry book.
George Harrison’s wife Olivia writes about almost losing George in her new poetry book, ‘Came the Lightening’
In Olivia’s new poetry book, Came the Lightening, there’s a poem called “Heroic Couple,” which revisits the night Michael Abram, a knife-wielding intruder, broke into Friar Park and attacked the sleeping Harrisons.
George confronted the man and almost forfeited his life for it. George had multiple stab wounds and a collapsed lung, but it could’ve been worse if Olivia hadn’t saved her husband that night. She hit Abram in the head with a poker, which allowed George to tackle him.
“It was hard to distill it into however many words are there, because it’s a big story,” Olivia told Yahoo Entertainment. “I could write an essay on that and every movement that happened.
“The statistics for those sort of attacks, at 4:30 in the morning, when your body and your adrenaline and everything is at its lowest point… the statistics on your side are not good. Usually you don’t survive unless you shoot somebody. But I’m not going to do that.”
Olivia told The Sunday Times that she learned a lot about herself that night. “I thought, OK,” she said, “I know I’m not the flight person. Yeah, you know, something happens, I always have to go see what it is.”
The night, she told Yahoo, was “a test you don’t want to have.” Olivia continued, “I don’t think you ever know what kind of person you are until you’re in that situation. But I am sort of an action person. And it was a moment when just something took over me. I couldn’t let George just be on his own out there. And believe me, he fought for me too.”
George could have died that night, but he kept his sense of humor. As the heroic couple sat in the ambulance, George called Olivia “Peckinpah,” referring to director Sam Peckinpah, who made films like The Wild Bunch.
“That’s how we communicated, even in those times, you know? … And he said, ‘Where was my video camera when I needed it? Gosh, we should have filmed it!'”
George died two years later, but under his terms, which Yahoo points out is the core of the story of “Heroic Couple.” It also brings us to where Olivia came up with the name of her poetry book.
Olivia named her new poetry book, ‘Came the Lightening,’ after something profound that happened during George’s death
George’s wife said he “put so much emphasis and importance on the moment of death, of leaving your body. That’s really what he was practicing for.” He practiced for his death so that he wouldn’t be afraid. However, Abram could’ve taken away all that preparation and given George a horrible death.
That’s what Olivia is saying in “Heroic Couple.” The poem brings us to the meaning of Came the Lightening. The name refers to George’s final moments when the lightening of the load of a lifetime left his body.
“In a Buddhist sense, there is a process that may happen, if we’re lucky, where you let you have the letting go of everything,” Olivia explained about Came the Lightening. “I saw George at [the end], and he was so incredibly beautiful and so light, because the lightening is really the lightening of the load — of the angst, of the desire, of the past, of the future, of everything — and just being in the now. And it was like, ‘Whoa. Wow. Oh, wow.’
“Then our son Dhani walked in the room, and George went, ‘Dhani!’ — as if he hadn’t seen him in a hundred years. It was the most beautiful moment, just pure and utter joy: ‘Dhani!’ I thought, ‘OK, there’s nothing impeding him. There’s nothing in the way of that essence of who he is anymore. All the attachment is gone.’
“It was something almost like birth, so pure and so beautiful. And it was really something that taught me a big lesson. It really showed me a beautiful possibility. I hope we can all come to that point and not be freaked out when we’re dying.”
George ‘lit the room’ when he died
Olivia explained that as her husband died, she wished the clock would stop. “I remember, when George died, wanting the clock to stop right then and there, because I thought, ‘One day I’m going to look back, and it’ll be five years.’ And now it’s 20 years,” she said.
However, Olivia was glad that her husband got the death he’d always prepared for. It was a profound experience when George left his body.
“There was a profound experience that happened when he left his body,” Olivia explained in Martin Scorsese’s documentary George Harrison: Living in the Material World. “It was visible. Let’s just say you wouldn’t need to light the room if you were trying to film it. You know, he just lit the room.”