I’ve been thinking about this for a while. Why are we (the collective “we”) so moved by and intertwined with celebrity deaths? Celebs are mortal just like the rest of us, so it is inevitable that they will die someday, but when they do, they have more mourners than the rest of us. This is especially so when they die tragically or die young, which often coincide.
When someone dies at age 98 in their bed surrounded by family, we say it’s a good death because they lived a long life. Many people die much younger than that. Tragically young. What’s the cutoff age? Is it 40? 50? 60? What about 70? I don’t have the answers. My dads died at 32 and 55—too young in my opinion. My maternal grandparents died at 56 and 60, ages I now see as young, but at the time since I was a young child, I saw them as old.
The first celebrity death I remember being aware of was that of actor/singer River Phoenix, who died of a drug overdose on Halloween night, 1993. He was only 23 years old and quite famous. I had seen him in several movies such as Stand By Me and Running on Empty. He was talented, and I remember being so sad when I found out he had died, especially because of the way he died. Anti-drug messages at school started using him as an example of what drug abuse could do.Continue reading
Fear. It can be crippling. It can also change as we age. What’s your biggest fear right now at this moment? Will you have the same answer tomorrow?
When I was little, my biggest fear was abandonment. After my father passed away, my mother remarried the man who would end up raising me and shaping my life in ways I didn’t know were possible at the time. I was only four, which is how old my daughter is now. I didn’t understand everything that had happened. I just had a fuzzy memory of my mother holding me over the side of my father’s hospital bed and telling me to say goodbye. I hadn’t said anything; I’d just waved. Waving instead of speaking is something my daughter does sometimes when she’s apprehensive about something. She’s afraid of the dark and worries when she thinks I am mad at her.
Not long after my mother and stepfather got married, I began having a recurring nightmare. I think I was about six when it began and it happened several times during the next few years. I dreamt about having to go hunting with my stepfather, just the two of us. In the dream, he made me stand under the water in a creek so that he could stand on my shoulders and look for deer through his binoculars. When I couldn’t hold my breath any longer, I pushed him off my shoulders, and he fell into the water and hit his head on the rocks. He wouldn’t wake up. At that point, I would always wake up crying. Pretty twisted for a kid’s dream, huh?