They say it happens in threes…death, bad news, etc. My father was the town crier for the grim reaper. Every month my dad would post an RIP message on Facebook notifying everyone of the loss of a celebrity. All of the time we mourn the loss of people we’ve allowed to be part of our family simply by turning on a television or going to the movies. Sometimes we say, “He was still alive?” because some people we will swear had been dead for years. Other times we will say, “Oh, that’s so sad.”
This week the media was flooded with Stuart Scott’s face and words. I don’t begrudge him the tributes. He sounds like a great man with a lot left to offer the world. Many people will miss him – his family, his friends, his fans. Because he sat in front of a camera and talked at us about things that some of us found interesting, the world celebrated the man who had lost his battle with cancer.
The thing is, today (or I guess yesterday now), someone in my graduating class so many years ago lost her battle with cancer. She was 43 years old, had a family who loved her and an amazing smile. We were friends in high school. We’d drifted apart (military brats) over the years, but I was lucky enough to enjoy her smile peeking out on Facebook.
So, why does she deserve any less celebration? Why does anyone who leaves behind people who will miss them deserve less?
I remember watching reactions to the news that people had died – Kennedy, Diana, John Lennon – people who had never met the deceased sobbed and screamed. When Phil Hartman died, and again when Robin Williams died, I felt a disbelief and strange emptiness. They weren’t my friends. I’d never taken a Government class with them, or danced with them at prom; and yet, I felt a sort of grief. I find myself feeling the same grief for Kat, despite sharing real life experiences. I guess distance and detachment lend to this sort of grief.
The news of this loss has come exactly one week after the loss of my daughter’s friend’s mother (and my friend). Again I find myself heartbroken for a family who will wake up tomorrow morning without a mom, wife, sister, daughter. I think that’s really the unifying factor. I recall Oprah talking about lowest common denominators. Loss is truly one of them. Knowing that someone has lost the person they loved more than anything in the world – whether they be a mom from Texas or a sportscaster – is heartbreaking. Knowing that grief will bitch-slap you when you least expect it – and there is nothing you can do about it – is terrifying.
In the end, my head understands the circle of life – death is part of life – and all of those other truisms. But today, my heart breaks for a family.