“Did you hear?”
“No, another one…”
“2016 sucks…everybody is dying…am I going to die?”
And then this conversation on Twitter:
@TaoOfMaud All I ask is no more celebrity deaths until after January 1.
— William Crowe (@crowew1978) December 27, 2016
I couldn’t promise this. Two hours after this tweet (prompted by the passing of Carrie Fisher) came news of the death of Watership Down author Richard Adams.
2016 isn’t finished apparently.
So how do you face this mounting pile of loss? We all have, so many this past year who meant so much to us. Some were very close and personal (for me, it was my mother). For others, these were celebrities, people we all mourn together for their contribution to our society, and that we in some way, through the media or in reading their works, felt we knew them. We mourn them because we felt the impact their messages had in our lives. Carrie Fisher was that as a rebel princess, but also was a talented screenwriter and author and a brutally honest advocate regarding mental health issues. Richard Adams didn’t become a writer until his mid-fifties and became a leading advocate in England for environmental causes and wetlands preservation. Both had lives well beyond what they became famous for.
Here’s the thing. Their journeys continue, just like the journeys for everyone who has left this year. They simply continue onward, following paths that lead to places we cannot follow, cannot see anymore. We feel bereft because we don’t share their lives and they don’t share ours either, not as we once did. But that is the simply the way of life. One road, many paths, and their paths have taken them a new way.
So now it is time to celebrate the time our paths came together, walked side by side, intertwined. It is time to feel the pain of regret and separation, to look at the point where the paths divided that last time and mourn, feel the pain and disappointment, and let the wound of separation, never actually planned for, scar over. At night, again and again, and yet one more time, we’ll look up to the stars, and we’ll think of them. Perhaps one night it’s the author whose word made you believe yours could build a vision or the singers whose music lifted your voice or your soul at the moments they needed that most. Another it might be the poet and pugilist with a better dream for everyone, or the entertainer who for so long fought the same demons you have and inspired you to keep going. On most nights, though, it will probably be the person who was, simply and yet most complicated, your greatest inspiration. We’ll think of them, and others, and close our eyes and wish, wish beyond hope that we’d give anything, to hear any of their voices just one more time. Just one. More. Time.
Then the moment passes, and we’ll open our eyes and we’ll head inside, ready to move on, each on our paths.
Except I did hear a voice. It never comes from the sky, but from deep within, a memory of the last thing my Mother said to me before she died. She smiled held my hand and said, “You’ll be alright.”
And so will you.