Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Less Colorful for Their Absence

In February 1997, I had been working at my first post-graduate, salaried job for six months. My parents were coming to visit me in Atlanta, and--because I finally could--I wanted to treat them to a nice evening out. I took them to my favorite restaurant and bought tickets to see John Denver at the Fox Theatre.

As a child of the 70s, I grew up listening to John Denver. His Greatest Hits album was among my first. I knew that I'd found a performance that all three of us were likely to enjoy and bought the best available seats.

We had a lovely evening. John Denver stood center stage with nothing but an acoustic guitar and a microphone, and his voice was as beautiful as it had been in my youth. We knew the words to every song.

Eight months later, John Denver died in a solo plane crash at the age of 53. When he died, I was surprised at the extent of my sadness. Singing along to his songs always made me happy, and losing the creator of that joy made the world a little less bright.

Until this week, only one other celebrity death made my heart ache for his absence. Jim Henson's death at 53 seemed to leave a hole in the universe. I grew up on Sesame Street and The Muppets, and his cast of characters are as familiar to me as old friends. Jim Henson made me laugh and created memories that will last a lifetime.

Every now and then, the death of a musician, artist, or entertainer strikes us in a more personal way. Certain talent shines brighter than others and casts a wider glow. Those artists do more than entertain us; they make our hearts a little fuller. When they leave us too soon, the world seems less colorful for their absence.

I am not the only audience member saddened by Robin Williams's death. His acting and comedic talents were extraordinary, and he gave many people the gift of laughter.

When the audience deeply feels the loss of an artist, the loss arises in direct proportion to their joy in his performance. Few performers have this effect on us. They are few and far between.

I'm thankful for all the artists who give to us by sharing their gift, and I'm sad when I must see them go. We lost another one this week.

Have you ever deeply felt the loss of a person you didn't know? If so, who?

1 comment:

  1. I cried when Phil told me that Robin Williams had died. He was my favorite comedian (possible tie with Billy Crystal) and I was just crushed. Not surprisingly, I felt similarly when Jim Henson died for the reasons you describe. The only other person/actor/personality that affected me in a similar - but lesser - way was when David Gregory from NBC News died. We watched him report from Iraq and he had little kids and I felt like we lost someone who talked to us every day. But I didn't feel the same hole in the universe as I did when Jim Henson and when Robin Williams died.