There’s a sadness in the world this summer. There are so many celebrity deaths that everywhere I go I hear people talking about them. It seems we always hear of famous people dying in sets of 3. That seems to be the way we categorize it and the way we are aware of it. There seems to be something extra sad about this summer though – multiple sets of 3 in very close timing. Big names – really big names like Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, Walter Kronkite. These are the names of my childhood. These are the iconic people I remember watching and admiring for their talent at the top of their game. I related to them in some way, or looked at them as the ultimate “possibility”. Their names are lingering in the air. Their talent still shining in our collective consciousness.
What is it about losing icons that makes such an intense universal impact? Why are we still talking and hearing and reading about them? It’s not like we knew these people intimately. We may think we knew all about them but all we knew was what someone else wrote or assumed or the little glimpse of them showing their talent. We don’t really know them at all! They weren’t family. They weren’t friends. They weren’t even acquaintances. What are they really? Role models – maybe some. Idols – likely yes to many. But it has to be more than those superficial connections that keep us hanging on to them. I wonder why it’s so difficult for us to say rest in peace and let them go.
For me, it’s hard to think of someone close to my age being gone. Someone who’s face I recognize at a mere glimpse and who’s voice I know by heart. It’s like a part of my childhood is “poof” … gone. It’s a certain reminder of my own mortality. And it makes me wonder at the level of impact I’ve had. Have I done enough? Am I just coasting through life with my small circle of influence? Do I even have a legacy that people will remember? Maybe that’s part of the impact. Losing people from the face of the earth that have clearly impacted so many makes us wonder about our own impact. I have work to do. I have people to love, encourage, teach, learn from, and inspire.
So, for now I say to Ed, Farrah, Michael, Billy, Walter and all the others. Go swiftly into the embrace of God. Rest in Him! We will remember you as we carry on!