Celebrity deaths and family resolutions

Filed under: Development/Milestones: Babies, Celeb Parents

I was at the neighbourhood Starbuck's yesterday afternoon, finishing the cold dregs of a soy tazo chai latte, when I clicked over to ParentDish to skim through the late-day posts. Sandy Maple's post about Heath Ledger's death was the first post I saw, and my heart skipped a beat. I don't know why, he is a movie star, I don't know him. But I was overcome with an inexplicable sadness, hurt.

He was too young, of course, but we are all too young when we die. He had everything: stardom, talent, money and looks. He had a gorgeous little girl, the same age as my son, and a recently disintegrated relationship with a beautiful ex-fiancee. He was robust, as solid as any of us get here on earth, but his death is a tangible reminder of the fragile line we walk each day, where one small mis-step, one tiny fluke, could plunge us into darkness, at any time.

If there is anything good that comes out of celebrity speculation, it is the realization that all of us are fallible, fragile. Heath Ledger's tragic death reminded me that we are here indefinitely, living on paper-thin ice: that we should embrace every moment and understand our fragility. The fact that we are parents make us no less vulnerable to death's imminence. If anything, it creates an urgency of life; little things matter more.

I hugged Nolan extra tight when I got home from the coffee shop, I thought of his Dad and the sadness I have that we didn't make it. Despite all of it, I have deep respect for him as the Father of my son, as the reason that I have the great gift of my little boy.

Death of a recognized figure is opportunity to reflect on our short time here, but also to briefly understand, with renewed urgency, that we need to be kind, reach out, apologize when we are wrong and be so, so grateful for the richness we have in the everyday moments: the laughter of our children, dimpled fingers, mangled words, sticky hand prints on windows that keep us warm in winter frost.

We are lucky, time is brief, tomorrow could be dark. We are so lucky for the light we have.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.