So, I had a totally different post planned for today, but 2016 had decided to have another jab at us today and yesterday and I decided a different post was in order. A lot of folks are looking at 2016 and pointing out how bad it was. We seem to have lost an inordinate amount of celebrities this year, many of which were people who were either icons of our youth or people who were very young—or both.
Many of these deaths hit us so hard because they are pieces of our childhood or teenage years. They were representative of things that got us through hard times. Wham!’s song, Careless Whisper, was the first song I ever learned all the lyrics to. I remember vividly my friend and I singing it for our moms in her living room.
George Michael has appeared on many of my book playlists. His music spoke to many, made people smile, and echoed a lot of heartache. Where Did Your Heart Go was another that always got to me. I have played Father Figure, literally, hundreds of times. In fact, just go through his channel. There were so many wonderful songs. I’m crying right now, as I write this. So many memories tied to his songs.
He’s only one of the icons. How many of the folks out there got through rough times because of the Harry Potter books? Alan Rickman’s Snape will forever be the only one I ever see in my head. Hans Gruber appears every Christmas in this house and the snarky angel from Dogma will make me laugh every time.
Then there’s Prince. I played my favorite, When Doves Cry, so much, I wore out several cassette tapes (and who else remembers those? Raise your hand!). I believe all his official YouTube music has been pulled, but I did find this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DnMY3YeVXoY. Yet again, tied to so many memories of my youth.
The list is ridiculously long of those we lost this year. David Bowie and
Glenn Frey add to the music icons. Then there’s Gene Wilder (Blazing Saddles, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), Carrie Fisher (Do I really need to say it?), Florence Henderson (The Brady Bunch), Alan Thicke (Growing Pains), Ron Glass (Firefly, Barney Miller), and Anton Yelchin (Star Trek 2009), just to name a few of the wonderful folks who graced our screens with their talent. We’ve lost both the To Kill A Mockingbird and Watership Down authors, as well a mess of other names that we all have memories of.
What I am struggling with is the now oft-repeated idea that, really, 2016
was no worse than 2015 and will certainly be better, even, than 2017. That we should somehow get over it and deal with it.
Except, I respectfully submit that we have a right to grieve in our own way for the death of folks who have impacted our lives. Telling us to get over it sounds suspiciously like we’re being told we’re doin’ it wrong. No two people grieve the same way. And further, it seems like we’re not honoring all the wonderful art, literature, characters, and more that they’ve given us. Some of them have hit us hard, and I
think we’re allowed to deal with it in any way we need to. Sometimes, that means yelling our anger at a personification of the year because who else can we get angry at?
I hope to honor these amazing actors and artists in my upcoming works. I hope 2017 is better, at least in when it comes to the folks we lose. And if not, I say to you: Grieve for them how you need to. It’s good to hold onto those memories.
Careless Whisper ©1984 Epic/Columbia Records. Written by George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley.
Where Did Your Heart Go ©1986 CBS/Epic Records. Written by Dave Was and Don Was.
Father Figure ©1987 Columbia Records. Written by George Michael.
When Doves Cry ©1984 Warner Bros. Records. Written by Prince.