Howie died in 2011. It seems to me that since then, there has been one celebrity death after another. Maybe it isn’t an unusual amount but that is how it appears to me. It’s possible that I am just more cognizant of it than I was before.
Clarence Clemons passed away just a few months before Howie did and he was very upset by it (he was a huge Springsteen fan). I remember thinking it was sad but it didn’t really affect me. Very shortly after Howie passed away, Whitney Houston died. I got so upset about this. Whitney Houston was not someone I knew but I thought it was such a loss. I just didn’t understand why it was affecting me the way it was. Possibly because of the state I was in regarding my own loss? Or maybe just because her music was part of the soundtrack to so much of my life? Possibly both? Who knows.
Shortly after that, another celebrity death. This time it was Donna Summer. I reacted to this even worse than Whitney Houston. I think I actually cried.
It was almost as if a little part of my past was gone. I loved my disco in the late 70’s and early 80’s and she was the queen. It was like the death of an era.
So many others after that – Robin Williams, James Gandolfini (and his death struck me as so similar to Howie’s), Joan Rivers, Dick Clark. Each one upset me to some extent. I am not one of those who posts on Facebook about it for days or take to my bed because a beloved celebrity dies. These are not friends or family members but the fact that this upsets me as much as it does is strange to me. Maybe other people react this way also but I do not remember reacting like this before Howie passed away.
I do remember and still know that I have always been super-sensitive. Howie used to tease me that I would cry at a rough McDonald’s commercial. I think I became even more sensitive about the subject of death after Howie died – that might be where all of this is coming from.
More recently, Prince and David Bowie both passed away. Again, icons that I grew up with, music that is such a part of my life. I was very sad about both.
The death of David Bowie hit me in a different way.
I liked David Bowie but I certainly wasn’t his biggest fan (although one of my favorite memories is dancing at Studio 54 to “Let’s Dance” while the video played on the big screen, and when the line “put on your red shoes and dance” came on, my best friend and I pointed to the red pumps that we were both wearing and started laughing. Sorry – had to throw in a Studio 54 memory). But for some reason David Bowie’s death really disturbed me and I couldn’t stop thinking about it for a while.
So why David Bowie? I think it’s as simple as this – not only was it about his music, it was about his personal life.
He was married to the same woman for years and they seemed very happy. He had two teenage children. Sound familiar? I guess they reminded me of my family. I think I related them to me. It must be such a loss for his wife and kids. It’s the same feeling I get when I hear that a friend of a friend (or someone like that) loses her husband and their kids lose their father. It is empathy whether it’s a celebrity death or not. I hate to hear about anyone going through this because it just sucks.
So now when I hear a Whitney Houston, or Prince, or Donna Summer, or David Bowie song, it’s sad to think that they are gone. But the music still makes me want to put on my red shoes and dance…
**P.S. – I wrote this a few days ago. Strangely coincidentally, the following morning I happened to catch Iman’s first interview since her husband’s death. It was just a short interview at the Tom Ford fashion show. The interviewer asked how she and her kids were doing, and then commented on what a strong woman she is. Her response was “I’m not as strong as I appear”. Those are my sentiments exactly. We do what we have to do – but it’s not easy.
Stacy was a stay-at-home mom/part-time preschool teacher whose life was turned upside down in 2011 when her husband passed away suddenly of a heart attack. She is raising her two fabulous daughters, now ages 18 and 20, who are turning into wonderful young women. In 2016, she started a blog about her experience as a young widow, The Widow Wears Pink. This led her to write for other publications including Huffington Post, Today.com, Scary Mommy, Grown & Flown, Kveller, Modern Loss, Thought Catalog, and many more. In 2018 she started Living the Second Act with fellow writer Mimi Golub. Today, Stacy and her daughters are happily living their “new normal” while always keeping her husband’s spirit alive.