Any man’s death diminishes me, for I am part of mankind

The Internet is reeling–Twitter and LJ both crashed for a while, as did the LA Times website and to some extent the MS-NBC site, I am told–and I don’t know HOW I feel, other than a little overwhelmed and sad.

Because not only did Heaven take Ed McMahon just the other day and then Farrah this morning, but also Michael “Jacko” Jackson as of a short time ago. Jacko was only fifty and was a health nut, as I understand it . . . so that one is a shocker. We were kind of expecting the other two, although you’re never really ready. That’s three celebrities in the span of a couple of days. The old superstition holds true.

(I’m counting David Carradine in the previous celeb threesome with Sky Saxon and the Carbondale character whose last words purportedly were, “I can’t believe Keith Richards outlived me!!”)

Last Friday, just before my brother-in-law’s surgery on Monday, one of my sister-in-law’s co-workers threw a pulmonary embolism and died in exactly the same way–she was dead on arrival and was revived, but died again without regaining consciousness . . . she was thirty-six and in “perfect health.”

This is all a wake-up call to each of us to say, “Live for today. Be happy today. Live as if today were the last day of the world.” Find something beautiful in the chaos and ugliness and smile about it.

My mother’s first words on hearing about Jacko were, “Thank God that [Our Favorite Older Celebrity] is safe!” I merely thought it, as I don’t like to sin out loud. Aren’t we awful? But we are steeling ourselves, because many of our favorite celebs are getting up there in years, and it’s scary. [And we believe in the by-threes superstition.]

We mourn. We hurt. For these people, but also for all the unsung . . . the hundreds of people who also crossed over to the Other Side today and who were ALL just as important as these celebrities, people you’ve never heard of but who were someone’s child, someone’s friend, someone’s co-worker. “Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee,” wrote John Donne. But the part they quote far less often goes on: “[A]ll mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated; God employs several translators; some pieces are translated by age, some by sickness, some by war, some by justice; but God’s hand is in every translation, and his hand shall bind up all our scattered leaves again for that library where every book shall lie open to one another.”

Amen.

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Author: shalanna

Shalanna: rhymes with "Madonna" and "I wanna," and is not a soundalike with "Hosanna" or "Sha-Na-Na." Aging hippie with long hair, husband, elderly mother, and yappy Pomeranian. I've been writing since I could hold a crayon. I started with fiction, which Mama said was "lying." “Don’t tell stories,” she would admonish, in Southern vernacular. “That's all in your imagination!” When grownups said this, they were not approving. So, shamed, I stopped telling stories for a few years--rather, I stopped letting anyone read them. I'm married to a fellow computer nerd who doesn't really like hearing about writing, but who reads sf/fantasy and understands the creative drive. I'm actually a nonconformist/hippie still wearing bluejeans and drop earrings and the Alice-in-Wonderland hair with headbands and sandals. Favorite flavor is chocolate/orange, favorite color is either Dreamsicle orange (cantaloupe) or bubble-gum pink, favorite musical is either Bye Bye Birdie, Rocky Horror, or The Producers . . . wait, I also love The Music Man. Is this getting way too specific and irrelevant yet? Obvious why I don't sell a ton of flash fiction, isn't it? To define oneself, I always say, it is good to make a list. How about a booklist? Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird Frank and Ernestine Gilbreth, Cheaper by the Dozen C.S.Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (all the Narnia books) J.R.R.Tolkien,The Hobbit/LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy Gail Godwin, The Odd Woman F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby J. D. Salinger, Catcher in the Rye (before dismissing it, actually read it) George Orwell, 1984 Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle Donna Tartt, The Secret History Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn James Allen, As A Man Thinketh Mark Winegardner, Elvis Presley Boulevard James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times The Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum Winnie-the-Pooh/House at Pooh Corner, A. A. Milne Peter Pan, J. M. Barrie The KJV and NIV Bible (each translation has its glories)

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