There are three circles to this thought (I know I'm mixing my metaphors, bear with me).
The outer-most circle is the large number of recent celebrity deaths. Of course the great Ms. Taylor has now passed, as well as Hitchcock favorite Farley Granger, and the one that particularly struck a chord with me, American playwright Lanford Wilson - a writer who's had a tremendous effect on me as a theater artist and writer.
The much closer circle is that several of my good friends have very recently lost loved ones. It's a far more personal pain, and one that hits everyone differently. I don't want to hurt them further by discussing it here. My heart aches for them, but I know anyone outside that moment of pain can offer only so much solace.
And the final circle is, as it always must be, me. Next week is the anniversary of a very painful death in my life; one that, eleven years later, still hurts close and quick.
And truly, no one, including me, ever knows quite what to say.
I don't believe in an afterlife. I don't believe in a greater plan graphed out by an omnipotent being. I believe that what matters is here and now, while we're alive and alert. So what I can say is, I hope that as each person passes, he knew while he was alive what value he was to those around him. That he was loved.
One of my favorite writers, Robin McKinley, recently wrote in her blog about the loss of friend and colleague Diana Wynne Jones, and she expresses her grief in a simple beautiful way that I would rather quote than attempt to emulate:
Everyone leaves a themselves-shaped hole when they go, and we all feel it, whether we know or recognise the individual holes or not.Read the rest of her post here.
The thought I want to conclude on is one less steeped in sorrow. Awful things happen. Every day. All we can do is shoulder the new weight and keep marching, because we matter as much as the ones who've left us do. I carry my pain with me, I carry my love with me, I carry my memories with me. And I look back as I look forward, always moving. And I am holding out my hand, for those carrying weight beside me.
After they had explored al the suns in the universe, and all the planets of all the suns, they realized that there was no other life in the universe, and that they were alone. And they were very happy, because then they knew it was up to them to become all the things they had imagined they would find. - Lanford Wilson, Fifth of July