I stood at the kitchen counter yesterday, getting ready to make some Super Bowl snacks. At the table, Charles and Zoe sat working on a Lego project. I flipped open my laptop, seeking a recipe I'd bookmarked, and on the way to finding it I saw the news.
My hands flew to my cheeks, Home Alone-style. "Oh no," I said.
I didn't mean to. I meant to keep it in. I meant to stay quiet.
Charles and Zoe looked up from their bricks, startled. "What?" they said, in unison.
I sighed. There was no backing out. "Philip Seymour Hoffman," I said. "He's gone."
The news was shockingly sad to Charles and me. So much talent, gone in an instant. When the news got uglier (cause of death: the needle in his arm), we grew even more grim.
So much talent, gone in an instant.
It's such a weird thing when someone you admire from afar dies. You're sad, but then you wonder: am I even allowed to be sad? I didn't know this person. I only saw him on the TV. What right have I to claim any part of his mourning?
Later, I found out that an old friend of mine, an actor, actually did know Philip Seymour Hoffman. He posted a poignant message of love and loss on Facebook, and it almost brought me to tears. It humanized the legend, brought him closer to home.
And I am sad, because an actor I've admired for years is gone.
We don't always take enough care of each other, in this wild and crazy world of ours. We don't always remember to tell our families we love them. We don't always bring food to a friend who's having a rough day.
We don't always recognize the signs that say something bigger is going on. Something bigger indeed.
I hope that, for all the sadness his family is facing right now, they don't beat themselves up with guilt.
For we can all, always, do better at taking care of each other, and of taking care of ourselves.
If I could sing this song to everyone I loved, every day, maybe that would get closer to telling them how I feel. And the thing is, there are a lot of people that I love.
Philip Seymour Hoffman was a talent. A living legend. A brilliant actor. A humanitarian. I now know from my friend's note that he was kind and giving and caring. He's gone all too soon. That much is clear.
Zoe and I went for a walk yesterday afternoon, about an hour after first hearing the news. She had questions about death and dying and drugs. Then we talked about the one place she'd encountered Philip Seymour Hoffman.
"He's in that episode of Arthur," I said. "The one you like, where Fern becomes an actor. He's the director who helps her. That was Philip Seymour Hoffman."
She thought for a moment. "So I can't watch that show anymore? Now that he's dead? They'll stop showing it?"
"No," I said. "It's on NetFlix. You can watch it anytime you want."
"Oh. So it's like he's not really gone, then. At least not for me."
She's right, you know. A legend like him will never die, not completely.
And we are all the luckier for it.