Thursday, March 19, 2009

A Sad Farewell

My heart is heavy.

When I read about Natasha Richardson's tragic accident on Google News a few days ago, I felt as if someone punched me in the stomach. There are lots of stories on the news about death and loss. So, what was it about Ms. Richardson's' story that affected me so profoundly?

1) She was acting royalty. Notice I didn't say Hollywood royalty. Her family tree was the Who's Who of Kick@ss Actors, each of whom has an impressive resume of work. (Her mother Vanessa is nothing less than an acting genius.) As a girl who wanted to be a professional actress from the age of three, I looked up to women like Natasha Richardson and her off-the-charts amazing thespian relatives: they were beautiful, talented, successful, and respected. What kind of woman wins a Tony Award for playing Sally Bowles from Cabaret? A fanf#@kingtastic one, that's who.

2) She was only a few years older than I am. Anytime someone my age dies, I can't help but imagine what it would be like if I were in her shoes. What about her children, who are only a few years older than Em? Even though I lost my mother two years ago, I can't even fathom what it must be like to say goodbye to one's mom so early in life. I felt the same sadness when Princess Diana died, leaving her two beautiful boys behind.

3) She died because she was skiing on a bunny hill. Not only that, but she didn't even run into anything. How could something like that happen? I've read countless expert interviews on the cause of her death, but it all boils down to the fact that she fell down and died. The name the doctors bandied about in the media was "Talk and Die Syndrome". What a horrible name for a horrible thing. A freak accident like this reminds us all that we don't have to leave this planet from old age or cancer; we can make our final curtain call skiing down the bunny hill. This life is precious, brief, and fragile, folks.

4) She was hooked up to a ventilator before she died. My mother-in-law died several years ago from complications associated with a heart surgery, and my husband's family had to make the excruciating decision to end life support. I was there as gorgeous, graceful Andree took her last breath, and believe me, it is something that one never, ever forgets. PS: I think using the phrase "pull the plug" should be outlawed. One's transition to the Spirit World isn't something that should be described so cavalierly.

5) Liam. Lovely, lovely Liam. I fell in love with Liam Neeson twenty years ago when he lit the screen on fire in The Good Mother. The first sex scene alone was a mini-pad moment for me. From then on, I devoured All Things Liam. I must admit; I had many a fantasy about wrapping myself around his big, strapping bod. Just a few weeks ago, my husband Michael was teasing me because Liam Neeson was on The Daily Show and I acted all school-girl goofy when he appeared. When I look back on that appearance, I remembered him laughing and being as sweet as can be. He was on the show promoting his film Taken.

Taken. The love of his life has been taken from him, and none of us can imagine the horror he is going through right now. The thought of losing Michael like he lost Natasha is overwhelming to me. Frankly, I don't know how I would survive it without seriously going over the precipice. Yet, I imagine that I would do what Liam is no doubt doing: keep it together for the sake of the kids. I bet that is what Natasha would have wanted. When we have a child, new skills are automatically acquired: seeing from the backs of our heads, doing twenty-three things simultaneously, morphing into a mama bear when our young cubs are threatened, and enduring unconscionable pain to protect our kids. What Liam is going through constitutes unconscionable pain.

I wish I could wrap my arms around him and his children, giving them support and love, yet knowing that nothing I say makes any difference whatsoever. The debilitating pain will be there until it isn't. Each day it will get better. Each year it will get better. That's hard to believe when you're in it, but somehow it happens.

As the world says farewell to this remarkable woman, I for one want to take something positive away from this terrible event. Every time I hear, see, or read the names Natasha Richardson or Liam Neeson, I will remind myself of the preciousness of life. I will express gratitude to my family for being with me on this journey. I will trust in Spirit that everything happens the way it is supposed to, even if I don't understand it at the time.

Farewell, Ms. Richardson. I know that Spirit has a new shining light on the Stage of the Soul.

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