This week we have lost two big names in the entertainment industry. I doubt I need to tell you who, it would be impossible – nigh impossible! – not to have seen the overwhelming coverage in the past few days. One, a global icon not only in music, but in fashion, in film and in self-expression. David Bowie was truly one of a kind who inspired us all to be just that way too. The other, an actor with perhaps the most famous voice of all time (second only to Morgan Freeman) was much loved by fans of the stage and screen alike, and will forever be my favourite anti-hero in the form of Severus Snape. Alan Rickman, thank you for gracing our screens.
The thing that has struck me the most this week as news of both icons' passing arose, was the absolute outpouring of love, appreciation and a highly personal sense of loss that surfaced from so many. Social media allows people to share personal thoughts and reflections the moment they hear news. As a result, social feeds fill up with how people feel, what that dearly departed meant to them personally, and links are shared of our more famous counterparts talking about these icons as co-stars, mentors, friends.
The other thing, and certainly true in both cases this week, is the sense of genuine shock and loss I felt at hearing the news each time. I did not personally know either man at all, so why am I so upset by their no longer co-inhabiting this planet? They were not in my life, and yet they were.
It is, thankfully, rare to lose someone close to you. Losses are few and far between and so when they do happen, we are always struck by the overwhelming realisation of our mortality, of how unfair and finite life is. Most of the time though, we carry on, shuffling through our days, upsetting ourselves with things like a quarrel with friends, an annoying colleague, or transport delays. Hearing that a much loved celebrity, someone you have appreciated and admired and feared since your childhood - Snape for god's sake! The Goblin King! - is suddenly and unexpectedly gone, lurches us out of our usual blissful disregard for how precious life really is.
What this outpouring of love for people only just passed makes me feel is this: sad. Obviously yes, sad because the cause of the love is now gone. But much more so, this makes me sad because suddenly this huge expression of love and gratitude is only surfacing after the fact of their passing. Did they know it while they were here? Did they think just a week ago they were washed up, past their prime, no longer important and appreciated as they once were? Of course they knew in a sense the impact they had, but I can’t help but think why did we wait until they're gone to let them know how much we appreciate them, you know?
If got me thinking, do we tell the people we appreciate just how much we really do? Do they know it? This whole thing of standing up, hand on heart and tear in eye for someone who cannot hear the genuinely heartfelt words makes me sad. Of course it's natural to be sad when someone is gone, and I know it’s not realistic to tell someone famous how important they are to you, but let's tell those we can while they're here. Let the love be expressed while there is still someone there to receive it.
For my part, and in the spirit of what I've just said, I want to show my full gratitude for the one person I know I don’t express it to enough. My mum, who welcomed both adult daughters back home at one point or another without any questions. Mum, who got us a most wanted cat even though she's really not an animal person. Mum, who raised two not always easy daughters single handed and did an amazing job (I mean, just look at us). Mum, who was laid off work in her fifties and picked up night shifts at a call centre just to keep us going, and yet never let my sister and I un-enrol from the dance classes we loved. Mum, who gave me a love for travel and learning other languages. Mum, who cooks the best lamb chops, balsamic chicken and coffee cheesecake in the world. Mum, who has always been supportive, encouraging and generous. Mum, who I know will read this post because she is quite genuinely the blog’s biggest fan. I'm sure there was many a time you would have rather been elsewhere than at home looking after us mum, but we are so grateful you did, and I know I don't speak for just myself when I say no one could have done it better. Thank you so much and I love you!!!
Now go tell the people you love that you love them.