Posted by: Randy Allgaier | June 26, 2009

On Life and Death


On Thursday June 25th three people died that in some way touched my life:  Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett and John Kinal.  The first two are well known to everyone the third- was the husband of a dear friend.

The world is in mourning- remembering the giant talent and bizarre life of an artist and troubled soul that is Michael Jackson.  In a flash Jackson’s death seemed to overshadow the loss of Farrah Fawcett.  Fawcett’s recent documentary that portrayed her courageous battle with cancer aired about a month ago and, as a man living with AIDS and Hepatitis C, her courage was inspiring to me.

I am more a fan of opera than the fan of pop star whose life was operatic.  I was listening to Beverly Sills and Jessye Norman while others were listening to Thriller.  I think I can count on one hand the amount of hours I have spent watching MTV in my entire life.  And while I was not an avid fan of Mr. Jackson’s, his talent was clear and the influence on contemporary pop music and culture cannot be ignored, nor should it.  He was an icon of the 1980’s- my first decade of adulthood.

Ms. Fawcett was an icon of the 1970’s- my last decade of adolescence.  As a gay man I was more likely to fantasize about Tom Selleck than Farrah Fawcett and I never watched “Charlie’s Angels” but admired her work in “Extremities” and “The Burning Bed”. 

But as icons like Jackson and Fawcett are mourned, there are many people who are not famous that died on that same day.  My friend Maggie’s husband is one of them.   The families of all those that died yesterday on June 25th are experiencing the pain of loss of a loved one and to them- that person was the most important person on earth.

I never met any of these three people.  But I know Maggie and she has touched my life with her love, her good humor, and her tenacious spirit. Maggie’s loss of John on the same day as these two larger than life people has given me pause.

While iconic figures have an influence on all of our lives, the lives of each one of us has an effect on every other life on this planet.  In the grand scheme of nature- each soul is precious and each soul has had a profound effect on this world. 

Our friends and our family are those lives that affect us the most.  They give us sustenance, they inspire us, they are our part of our lives and they take up large places in our hearts.  The history books may not remember their names, but our lives and the lives of future generations who have been indirectly touched by them are the testament to their lives and their gifts.

Each person who passes from this life leaves a legacy and has a profound effect on those who lived in their sphere.  Each life is sacred and every life is worthy of celebration and every death is the source of loss and grief. 

All of us on this planet are connected and we rejoice in our collective joy and cry in our collective grief. Every day of every year has joy and grief in it.  For my friend Maggie- she lost her soul mate.  That is a grief I cannot imagine and as the world mourns the loss of two icons, it is the loss that my friend is experiencing that tears at my heart.  That loss is private, personal and profound.  We all have either experienced  or will experience that level of loss and I know that Mr. Jackson’s and Ms.Fawcett’s family are feeling the hole in their hearts as is my friend Maggie.

As the world stops to celebrate the lives and mourn the loss of two icons, I hope we all remember that there are men and women who die every day that are someone’s spouse, someone’s child, someone’s parent. 

We should take time to celebrate the lives of all of us and to remember that everyone who dies has touched the life of someone on this earth before that soul leaves this earth and touches the face of God.


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