I honestly don’t remember which came first – my obsession with purple or with Prince. I mean, purple’s been my favorite color for as long as I can remember. When all the other little girls loved pink, I chose purple. Just like when all the other girls squealed over Duran Duran, I smirked with Billy Idol, and when all the other girls swooned over Michael Jackson, I fell for Prince.

He was dark and edgy and sexy as hell. Some of his songs were probably a little risqué for my then middle-school self – part of why I loved them. I listened to Darling Nikki while taking my first ever drag on a cigarette behind a bush with a “friend” whose name I no longer remember. Later, my high school friends and I would take off after school for Georgetown and dig through the bins of the dingy and tiny record shop or splurge on a trip to the bright and shiny new Tower Records in DC. Prince’s albums were always one of my top choices if I had a few bucks to spare. I believe I still have a single vinyl of Purple Rain with its purple and black sleeve in my memory box in the attic – the one I hung from a bulletin board as a teen because it matched my room.

Prince disappeared from the scene for a while, during those same years where my only dose of pop culture was Friends and ER because I was raising three young boys. I didn’t get to think much about the time he changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol because I was too busy being a mom, but I wasn’t that surprised. It seemed to fit him. Once I became an author, however, I learned more about his reason for doing so and admired him as an artist all the more for it.

Prince’s music was there for me during some of the hardest times of adolescence and has been ever since. The artist and the music have always held a special place in my heart and on my playlists. And I admit that it all started with our shared love for the color purple. After all, it was Purple Rain that first grabbed me, and I still get a little thrill when I hear “purple” in the lyrics of his other songs.

So I can’t really say which came first – my obsession with the color purple or the musician known as the Purple One. But I do know that both played a key role in my crossing the bridge from child to mature adult. The color was my security blanket while Prince’s music was my soundtrack. Just like purple has become a part of who I am today – it’s part of my author brand, the color of my office, and the dominant color of my wardrobe – Purple Rain, Little Red Corvette, Kiss, When Doves Cry, Darling Nikki, Raspberry Beret, Manic Monday, Nothing Compares to You . . . they’re all a part of me, too.

We’ve lost so many legends over the years and even just the last few months, but this one hits me hard in the heart. Prince crossed genres and generations. He and his music touched so many of us, in some ways most people don’t even realize. He was a musical genius and an epic soul. RIP, Prince Rogers Nelson. You may have physically left our planet, but you will forever be a part of me – of my memories, of my life, of my soul. Because of your music, you will forever be a part of our world. Tonight, we all listen to the sound when doves cry.