When a celebrity dies

I’ve been thinking about this for a while. Why are we (the collective “we”) so moved by and intertwined with celebrity deaths? Celebs are mortal just like the rest of us, so it is inevitable that they will die someday, but when they do, they have more mourners than the rest of us. This is especially so when they die tragically or die young, which often coincide.

When someone dies at age 98 in their bed surrounded by family, we say it’s a good death because they lived a long life. Many people die much younger than that. Tragically young. What’s the cutoff age? Is it 40? 50? 60? What about 70? I don’t have the answers. My dads died at 32 and 55—too young in my opinion. My maternal grandparents died at 56 and 60, ages I now see as young, but at the time since I was a young child, I saw them as old.

River Phoenix

The first celebrity death I remember being aware of was that of actor/singer River Phoenix, who died of a drug overdose on Halloween night, 1993. He was only 23 years old and quite famous. I had seen him in several movies such as Stand By Me and Running on Empty. He was talented, and I remember being so sad when I found out he had died, especially because of the way he died. Anti-drug messages at school started using him as an example of what drug abuse could do. Continue reading “When a celebrity dies”

A scary topic: suicide

Netflix just released a series, “Thirteen Reasons Why” based on a book of the same name by Jay Asher. The book was published in 2007 but is still extremely relevant ten years later. It deals with the aftermath of a scary subject: suicide. I read the book, then binge-watched the series over the weekend. I think it should be required reading/viewing for high school students. I am still recovering emotionally after experiencing the raw emotions contained in the novel and internet series.

The message: You never know what someone else is going through, even if they try to tell you. You can never truly be in someone else’s shoes. You never know what words or actions can mean to another person. What seems insignificant to one person might be earth-shattering, world-ending, or soul-crushing to another. This is never truer than when that someone is a teenager. Teenage brains are not fully formed. Their hormones play into that as well. They can’t always see past the “right now” and think about things getting better in the future. Right now, suicide is still the second-leading cause of death for teenagers.

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The loss of my stepfather

Ronnie and Opal wedding, 1985.

My father died when I was little, and my mother remarried Ronnie Campbell. Ronnie was born on March 17, 1954, St. Patrick’s Day, and he died June 7, 2009. He was 55. Unlike my father’s death from cancer, Ronnie’s death was an accident and completely unexpected.

 

Ronnie and Opal, yearbook staff, early 1970s.

Mom had known Ronnie since elementary school. He had been one of her best friends. I remember their wedding. My stepsister and I got to be flower girls, which was a great excuse to be princesses for the evening in our white dresses and ballet slippers. After that, my mom and I moved into Ronnie’s house to live with him. What I remember most about that house is the green carpet in the bedroom I used. I was only four, so it’s funny what things stick out in my mind.
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