What Was That All About?

Why does a celebrity’s death affect me? That’s the question I spent yesterday asking myself as I tried to shake the deep sadness engulfing me after reading that Alan Rickman had died. I never knew the man. I couldn’t say he was warm, or kind, or funny, but as I read those tributes my eyes teared up and my heart ached. Why? Yes, I loved him as Snape and as many other characters over the years. He was one of my favorite actors, but I never knew the man.

So why the sorrow? Why have an entire Thursday lost to it? I still don’t know. If you have any ideas, I’d love to hear them.
It could be that his death stirred long-buried feelings of loss from my own choices in this life. Once upon a childhood, I wanted to be an actor. He’s the type of person I would have loved to work with. Could I be mourning not just his passing but the death of those dreams as well? It seems ridiculous. I’ve known for years that I would never realize those dreams. I walked away from all things theatrical without looking back. Why feel sad now? Because acting was my first love. And it died.

Still, it doesn’t quite make sense. My daughter reacted strongly to the news of David Bowie’s death. That one didn’t affect me the same way. But perhaps there was a collective sadness resonating in our house. We both felt the loss of such great talents. People like that shouldn’t leave the earth so soon, especially when people like me, eager to leave and adding so little to life, remain. I’m not saying that I felt, “Why not me?” That’s not it. It’s more the loss of what more they would have done. The loss of their art.

Maybe Mr. Rickman’s death hit me harder than I expected because we had just marathoned the Harry Potter movies, and I had been marveling at his portrayal of Snape. Maybe it’s as simple as that—he had been on my mind and now he was gone. It still feels odd that I was so affected, but maybe immersing myself in that world had created a bond of sorts that hadn’t yet released. It would have naturally in a few days, but the news caused an abrupt severing. It pulled me back to reality before I was ready, and the reason was shocking.

I didn’t know the man. And it’s not like I had posters of him on my wall or collected Alan Rickman memorabilia. I’m not a super-fan. Yesterday I kept feeling that I had no right to mourn, but I did anyway. For whatever reason. I’m okay today, though. The intense sadness lifted last night, so I’m less worried about my mental heath. I feel sad for his family, for his friends, the people who knew and loved him and now acutely feel that loss. There are days I still feel intense grief about my parents’ deaths. About other losses. May we, the living, the left, all rest in peace.

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