Tag: death

Truly Madly Deeply conflicted over Alan Rickman’s death

705120265483856_mainphotoLong before JK Rowling was scribbling the words that would become the juggernaut that is Harry Potter (or maybe while she was scribbling), and Severus Snape was immortalized on film by the pitch perfect Alan Rickman, I had fallen in love with him (and that great – yet underrated – British actress Juliet Stevenson) in Anthony Minghella’s stunning 1990  film, “Truly, Madly, Deeply.”

If you haven’t seen it, go find it and watch it. NOW. I’ll wait.

Okay. Have you seen it now?

Good.

And now tell me how it was impossible to not fall in love with Jamie – Alan Rickman’s character. Jamie. Who died. Jamie. Who played the cello, so hauntingly, so beautifully, and who spoke in that wonderful, mellifluous tone that is – now was – Rickman’s trademark voice? How could you not weep, openly, as Juliet Stevenson, a woman shattered by grief, wished so hard for her lover (Rickman) to return – that he did. In ghost form. And turned up the heat (because apparently it’s bloody freezing in the afterlife or wherever Alan Rickman-cello playing ghosts go) and played the cello, and sneezed a lot and brought his ghost friends round and stayed up ALL NIGHT watching movies. And sang “Sun ain’t gonna shine anymore,” with Stevenson.

This movie. This is where I fell in love with Rickman. Such beauty, such power, such love, such a voice! Such emotional depth. Such physical expression. There is nothing – by Hollywood standards – about Rickman’s features that made him sexy. But he was. With that voice and that emotional depth and talent by the bucketload. He was a great stage actor long before Hollywood discovered him. But “Truly Madly Deeply” is and was to this day both one of my favourite films of all time and Rickman remained one of my favourite actors. Pre-Harry Potter. Even Pre-Sense and Sensibility with Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet.

Rickman was one of those guys that you’d pay to read the bloody phone book. That I would have paid good money to see on stage, but never got the chance. So, in case it’s not clear, Rickman was one of my favourite actors of all time and it’s heartbreaking to hear that that talent has been snuffed out. That he’s gone. That we’ll never hear that voice  – at least live – again. Not unless he does a “Jamie” and shows up to haunt various people.

However, I’m not just sad that his talents are gone. I’msad that he left this Earth without ever giving up on his anti-Israel stance.  When I heard that he had co-written and produced the play “My Name is Rachel Corrie,” in 2005 about American student protesting the demolition of a Palestinian home, who was killed by an Israeli bulldozer while acting as a human shield,  I could no longer respect the man.

I wish Rickman – who died today – January 14 at the age of 69 from cancer –  had lived long enough to open his eyes to what is really going on in Israel. I wish he’d lived long enough to use his intelligence and compassion and take a long, hard look at the fact that there are two sides to a conflict; that he’d come to know and love Israel. Heck, I wish he’d taken the time to visit Israel!

Either way, the world has lost a great talent. And I will continue to remain truly, madly, deeply in love with Jamie and his cello. Even if I can’t remain in love with the man who played him.

Caution: Swearing Ahead

In my  literary brain the title of this post would be something touching, poignant, reflective. But nope, in the real world, that’s not going to happen, because I really just want to say: WTF?

Hands up if you have SKYPE? And hands up if you think that when that blue circle posts a red number above it it means someone  tried to call you? Given that my whole family lives in Israel and that the Jewish sabbath (Shabbat) begins tonight, I figured maybe one of my family members Skyped me to wish me Shabbat Shalom or to rub in the fact that outside of Israel Passover is 8 days (as opposed to 7 there), I clicked on the Skype button wondering how I’d not heard the Skype phone ring.

But it wasn’t a call at all. It was a birthday reminder notification (I forgot that Skype does that). This is what popped up on my Skype screen:

skyper

FUCK!! That was my first response. Followed by FUCK, FUCK, FUCK! And then I looked at the little green squiggly circle on the left that told me that Randall Taylor was “offline.” Of course he’s fucking offline! Because he’s dead! Died by his own hand (with a handgun to the head to be precise) – exactly 6 months, one week and one day ago (but who is counting, right?).

And I’m sitting here thinking, how the fuck does his Skype account still exist? Did his family not switch it off? Are they unaware he had one? And even if they were aware, wouldn’t you need a password to know how to delete the damn account?

Now, it’s not like Randall and I ever really Skyped. He was my best friend, and my next door neighbour, so no need to Skype, right? He set it up years ago for when I was overseas and he was taking care of my dog – so we could chat and discuss important things like: How did Bronte enjoy her walk? How much cottage cheese did you include in her food today? You know, important stuff.

This is why I never even thought to delete his Skype profile from my list because it was so rarely used. But today (and it’s not like I forgot today would have been his birthday), I was completely winded when this reminder popped up. It was like being kicked in the solar plexus. The Internet age is bad enough in life – but it’s terrifying the web it weaves even in death. The body is gone, the soul – who knows where? – but you’re online life is there: taunting, teasing, those left behind. There’s a brief moment where you think “I can click on that ‘send a gift’ button, and somehow the present will magically wend its way to wherever they now reside in cyberspace, and hey, I might even get an automatically generated ‘thank you’ note in return.”

The memories in my heart, in my soul, and the reminders around my home – even the space between my grief – still cradle Randall. He’s everywhere and he’s nowhere. He’s in the lump in my throat, the pain that sometimes threaten to stop my heart and he bloody well sits  on my therapist’s bookcase every time I walk into his office. And these things make me cry and yearn and ache.

But this? This assault from cyberspace? From Skype? All it does is make me livid and inarticulate and broken and beaten down. As if every tiny step I’ve taken over the last six months to heal, to move on, to figure out a life without my best friend and neighbour, is some big, cosmic, joke.

And all that I can think, all that I can say is FUCK! Because there are no other words. No other thoughts.

And no, it does not escape me that I’m writing this post on the Internet.

But I’m still going to say it.

Fuck the Internet.

That is all.

The ‘S’ Word, The ‘F’ Word and the ‘W’ Word

I’ve never been one for New Year’s Resolutions per se. Jan.1  is just an arbitrary date and most resolutions are set up to fail. But this year I kind of, sort of, had a resolution socked away in the far recesses of my mind. That resolution was (and still is) to find a way to live my life surrounded by the ‘S’ word.

The ‘S’ word in question is suicide. My blog (and my life until now) have remained largely frozen in a time warp that began on October 9, 2013, when my best friend and next door neighbour, whom I saw every day for the past seven years, who was my darling dog’s surrogate “dad” chose without warning or pomp or ceremony to pick up a gun and blow his brains out.

I thought about writing the act more eloquently, more delicately, but he didn’t simply “take his own life,” he did so violently, brutally, and not only knowing that I would find him, but just to make sure I got the message, left me a hand written note. Only me. Not his mother or his brother or his two sisters or his boss or his bank manager. Me. A note addressed to me. A note seared into my brain for the rest of my life. A note that was alarmingly devoid of emotion. Short, sharp, direct with a one sentence explanation that later proved to be unfounded. Even in his final farewell he lied about the true reason behind this senseless, horrific act. Meaning, despite bits and pieces filtering through about possible motives, I’ll never REALLY know what drove him to this. Maybe he didn’t either? But I can speculate till the cows come home. Mostly, these past three months I’ve had to figure out how to put one foot in front of the other; how to get through an hour – let alone an entire day; how to live a life that was turned upside down in an instant.

I couldn’t even post on this blog that my novel had placed second in another writing contest – The Catherine. I received the news just days after my neighbour’s death. But it really was impossible to rejoice in the news at the time.

Thank goodness for all who surrounded me with love and support;  my family, friends, and synagogue community who came to visit, talk, hold my hand, bring food (naturally) and listen to me keen and wail and rant and grieve and sometimes remain catatonic.

I’m looking forward to finally starting back at work next week. But the legacy and the pain and the loss remain. They will linger. I know that. I’m not someone who has been coddled from loss. I’ve had a lot of it in my life – including losing my dad as a teenager. But suicide – that’s a whole other kettle of fish. It’s hard to come to terms with a person who chose to take their own life – especially when you know others who have fought tooth and nail to stay alive while battling cancer. Grief, anger, and a million questions that can never be answered have gone to the grave with my neighbour and best friend. For everyone who has lost a loved one to suicide, I know you know what I’m saying and what I’m feeling and justice cannot be done to those feelings in a brief blog post. But we go on. Like baby foals, we stand on wobbly legs; we fall down, we think we can’t take on the world on our spindly legs, but somehow we find a way. Because we lean on others – we do the one thing the person who decided he or she could no longer live in this world didn’t do – we reach out: to friends, to family, to loved ones, to therapists and our communities. They hold us up until we can walk again and we know they will be there to catch us when we fall – as we inevitably will. Which leads me to the “F” word.

The “F” word reminds me why I don’t believe in Jan 1. resolutions. I had wished with a fervour so strong that it shook my being, that 2013 was behind me. That we could close the door on that chapter. As if a New Year means a new start. I knew it didn’t really. I knew it was just an arbitrary date, but I wished it nonetheless. And Jan. 1 came, as promised. But on Jan. 5 we learned that a dear friend of our synagogue community was killed in a car accident on Jan. 4 and my world came crashing down again. How much grief can one person bear?

And so, today, in just a few hours I will go to a funeral. The “F” word. The funeral of a man with so much love and goodness in the world, cut down in an instant. A place where there will be so much grief and pain, but there will be support and an outpouring of love for him and his family. Unlike my neighbour – whose family chose not to have a funeral for him – I will at least be able to stand with my community and show everyone how much this dear man, killed at the beginning of this “New Year” was loved and how deeply he will be missed.

And so we come to the “W” word, which is, of course, writing. Something I was unable to do for months. But yet, here I am now writing about death and loss and grief.

Before Sunday’s tragic news of my friend’s death, I had been galvanised once more by the Women’s Fiction Writer’s Association to get back to editing my novel, thanks to the Write-a-Thin (see the badge?)

Image

that was launched Jan. 1. For the first time I could concentrate for more than 10 minutes at a time and was working hard. Sunday’s news threw me off my game (naturally) and I was back in a well of grief. Everything seemed compounded.

But I do know that I am returning to my version of “normal.” I’m looking forward to returning to work, returning to writing. I’m learning to accept the obvious: that the world is not an easy or a safe place to live in; that there will always be tragedy and grief and challenges around the corner. Learning to keep going is what it is all about. And we do that by making sure we surround ourselves with people who can hold us up when we fall down. And knowing that we will do the same for them. So thank you to everyone who loves me, supports me, and is there for me no matter what. I am here for you, too.