Life as we’ve known it, is no longer. The past two years have been life changing for us individually, as much as it’s been for the entire world. Just typing those words is jolting. Yes, the ENTIRE WORLD. Not just the nation. We find ourselves in a place that affects those in Florida as much as it’s affecting those in New York, California, Hawaii, Canada, Alaska, the Caribbean Islands, South America, Africa, Europe… you name it… EVERYONE’s lives have been changed.
It’s been more than two years of nothing but losses. And yet we seem to have an overt sense of realization that things will never be the same even in those instances where we’ve lost legends. In fact, I’d say, especially, in those cases. Yes, those famous individuals who have in some way touched our lives. We’ve lost many of them. And each time we hear or see a name, we share a tender moment of grief that’s hard to explain. Because in fact, we never really “knew” them right? But it sure did feel like we did. These legendary losses have touched our hearts in the most profound way. After all, we’ve celebrated their wins, and watched as they’ve experienced challenges in the public eye.
As I embarked on the lamentable journey to review the all-encompassing list of losses to document in this blog I must say, I was quite overwhelmed. It deeply saddened me to see so many years of talent, gifts, love, laughter, creativity, comedic genius, skill, royalty, and frankly some great and kind-hearted people lost. As in, never to return again. Left only with their documented works to remember them by. They all in one way or another played a pivotal role in my upbringing. I can recall a particular time I was glued to the television screen, or flipping page after page learning about them in history, or simply enjoying their life’s work. They were a part of me. And dare I say, they still are.
I’ve documented a few of the losses we’ve had over the last couple years to follow. The ones that in one way or another touched my heart, affected my life, or simply provided me with a need, want, or desire to be creative myself. The causes of their passing ranging from COVID, to complications of COVID, to overdose, to illness, to natural, to simply tragic, and unknown. Take a moment to read them. Silently dedicating time to the annunciation of each name, and recalling how, if in any way, they too played a special role in your lives. (TRIGGER WARNING)
- Ruth Bader Ginsburg- Supreme Court Justice, 2nd Woman to serve on the US Supreme Court; 87.
- John Lewis- US Congressman and Civil Rights Movement participant; 80.
- Chadwick Boseman- Iconic Actor in Black Panther; 43.
- “Little Richard”- Legendary Musical Genius & Singe; 87.
- Kobe Bryant- NBA Sports Legend; 41.
- Armando Manzanero- Mexican Composer and Singer; 85.
- Thomas “Tiny” Lester Jr- Actor and Wrestler best known for his work on Friday; 62.
- Alex Trebek- Genial Jeopardy Host; 80.
- Sean Connery- Scottish Actor also known as James Bond; 90.
- Regis Philbin- TV Personality & Talk Show Host; 88.
- Jerry Stiller- Actor & Comedian; 92.
- Betty Wright- Iconic Soul Singer; 66.
- Roy Horn- One of two, of the Duo Siegfried & Roy; 75.
- James Lipton- Interviewer known for his role in The Actors Studio (you must watch his genius); 93.
- Betty White- Comedic Actress; age 99.
- John Madden- Hall of Fame Coach; 85.
- Desmond Tutu- South Africa’s Arch Bishop; 90.
- Vicente Fernandez- Iconic Mexican singer; 81.
- Colin Powell- Former U.S. Secretary of State; 84.
- Michael K. Williams- Acclaimed Actor known for his role on The Wire; 54.
- Johnny Ventura- Dominican Merengue legend; 81.
- Biz Markie- Legendary Rapper; 57.
- Suzanne Douglas- Acclaimed Actress; 64.
- Paul Mooney- Comedian; 79.
- DMX- Grammy Nominated Rapper; 50.
- Prince Phillip Duke of Edinburgh- Husband to Queen Elizabeth; 99.
- George Segal- Comedic Actor; 87.
- Johnny Pacheco- Dominican American Composer; 85.
- Dustin Diamond- Best known for his role as “Screech” in Saved by the Bell; 44.
- Cicely Tyson- Groundbreaking Actress; 96.
- Larry King- Iconic Interviewer; 87.
- Siegfried- Two of two, of the Duo Siegfried & Roy Entertainment; 81.
- Andre Leon Talley- Fashion Legend; 73.
- Bob Saget- Known as America’s Dad for his role in Full House; 65.
- Sidney Potier- Legendary Actor; 94.
And added after the above documented on 1/22/2022 to follow:
- Ian Alexander Jr- Son of actress Regina King; 26.
- Cheslie Kryst- Former Miss USA, Entertainment Correspondent and Civil Attorney; 30.
(Lets all take a deep breath, and a moment of silence… for those lives we now mourn).
The idea to write this blog came to me immediately after the death of my very one lifetime favorites, Betty White and Bob Saget. Although the others’ losses also touched me, none in the specific way these two did. As with many of our childhood pastimes, television was my outlet. As evidenced by my past Golden Girls references/lines (see previous blog posts).
And as for Bob Saget, well, Full House was that feel good sitcom we watched every day when we arrived home from school. As soon as homework was done, and immediately after dinner, it was one of the sitcoms our parents gladly allowed us to hog the television over.
So hearing of their losses was tragic. These two really hit home for me. And as if divine timing, I ran across a few online posts that confirmed my sentiments. One read, “Imagine living 99 years and an entire country collectively agreeing it wasn’t long enough.” – Jenna Wadsworth. Because this is exactly how I felt. As if we needed her here much longer. The world needs more Betty White, especially in these times.
The other was an article published by The Hollywood Reporter noting that acclaimed singer John Mayer and known Comic Jeff Ross, paid the ultimate gift to Bob Saget in his final moments. Many, myself included, didn’t know just how close this trio was in real life. As such, they paid respect to him by stating these last words in his honor:
“I’ve never known another human being on this Earth who could give that much love individually and completely to that many people,” said Mayer.
Ross remarked that of all the people in Saget’s life, the late comedian loved his wife and daughters the most. And being such a great family man made him even more affable.
“I really loved the guy,” Ross said. “He was a comic before he was anything else. You know, I’ve heard from a thousand comics in the last couple of days, and he loved making people happy. It didn’t matter who you were. It didn’t matter your stature, your status.”
His wife, Kelly Rizzo expressing in her eulogy:
Calling her now late husband “a force,” Rizzo continued, “I’m sure every one of you out there, whether you knew him or not, was in awe of the enormous outpouring of love and tribute for this special man. It was like nothing anyone has ever seen. I am so appreciative for the kindness and support from loved ones and strangers.”
And noting just how appreciative she was of John Mayer and Jeff Ross in that the small act of kindness of getting his car back home, was more meaningful to her than she could fully express.
Just as we were dealing with those losses, on the morning of January 30th we received some more shocking news. We hear of the suicide of Former Miss USA Cheslie Kryst who is said to have jumped to her death from a Manhattan, New York high rise. Her role as Miss USA was only part of what put her on the map. She later went on to become an entertainment news correspondent though her prior contribution to society came from her work as a civil attorney who conducted free legal work for prisoners who were sentenced unjustly. Even more jarring to know that she was only 30 years old.
And it doesn’t stop there, we also heard news of the suicide of actress Regina King’s son, Ian Alexander Jr., age 26. All a sullen reminder of how fragile life is. How fragile we are. And a stark realization that all isn’t always what it seems. Sparking a movement to #speakup and encouraging those going through a tough time. In fact, I came across a post on social media today that read as follows:
“I keep reading stories from people that knew Cheslie Kryst (may she RIP) and I notice they repeatedly described her as a source of light and positive energy. The same with Ian Alexander, Jr (may he also RIP.) I do not think most people know how draining it is to be that type of person in today’s selfish world. Praying for all the beautiful souls out there. May you stay strong and save some of that light for yourselves.” https://www.facebook.com/olany.reyes
I couldn’t have said it better myself. This bringing to attention a deep, dark, and lonely secret many hold each moment of the day. How easy it is to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life and not notice those around us who are struggling. While on the other hand, just how well those who are having suicidal thoughts and can’t find themselves out of the dark place, are carrying on through life as if all was “okay”. Doing a pretty good job at hiding all the hurt. Masking it with a smile and that LIGHT.
I share all this to say… how HONORABLE. To lose one’s life and be spoken so highly of in our last moments. Yes, maybe it’s what most would expect. To hear others pour their hearts out for how “wonderful” you were, and how “kind”, and how they were “so grateful to know you.” I’m a big believer that we should give each other our flowers while we’re here. When we can feel them, smell them, touch them, and enjoy them.
In instances such as these when legends have lived their lives in such a way that EVERY SINGLE PERSON in their lives were FILLED, by their presence. They were filled by their affection; by their devotion; their dedication; their genuine care; their lifetime efforts. Its emotional, to think that there are people on this earth, right here and right now who do this. Who live this way? And people who don’t appreciate it. Who discard them? Who think they “have time.”
If there’s one thing we’ve learned in the past two years and thirty-two days is that, WE DON’T HAVE TIME!!! Show people that you love and care for them now. Show people that you support them. Even the smallest act of kindness, can change someone’s mind from being suicidal, to having hope. From losing focus, to rebuilding. From seeing darkness, to seeing the light. YOU CAN DO THAT you know? You do have that much power.
The joy that Betty White and Bob Saget brought to this world was more than words can express. It was a joy filled with lighthearted humor. They depicted their roles so very well, it’s as if we never saw them be anything other than exactly who they were. They carried themselves through life in much the same way. Smiling, loving, caring, laughing, and making others laugh. Bringing joy to a world that couldn’t need it more than it does in this very moment.
The word says so in 2 Corinthians 4:7, “We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our power is from God, not ourselves.” Furthermore showing us in Romans 12: 6-8, “… in his grace God has given us certain gifts for doing certain things well. If it is serving others, serve well. If it is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. And if it’s sharing kindness to others, do it gladly.”
If these words alone don’t inspire you. If they don’t make you realize that both Betty White and Bob Saget, like the many others we’ve lost the past couple of years, and the many others still living who show us this way of life… if this doesn’t make you stop in your tracks, and RE-EVALUATE your behaviors, your life, your direction, and your company… I don’t know what will.
Though this was quite a somber topic to discuss, it is real. Couldn’t get any more real than the actual current state of our lives. Grief is difficult to process. But it is necessary. And although we know that, “…he has plans for us…” (Jeremiah 29:11) and that he’s “watched us as we were being formed in utter seclusion, woven together in the dark of the womb… before we were born, every day of our lives is recorded in His book…” (Psalms 139: 15-16). I thought it was necessary to be brought back down to earth for a second. Or shall I say, brought up to Heaven and then back down? Nonetheless, let this serve as a reality check. Do your very best today. Release old hurts and resentments. Put them in His hands. Show the people around you that you genuinely love them. Set yourself aside for once.
Don’t be the one who’s feeling guilty for not reaching out when you’ve lost someone who means the world to you. Do your best TODAY. Right now. Whether it’s well received or not, let that be the issue of the receiver. But GIVE. As the word says, “give generously…” and let Him handle the rest.
I’d like to close this out by sharing a national resource for grief support:
Let’s not forget our grieving children in this difficult time:
As always, I hope this message has encouraged you. To live your life to the best of your ability. To shine brighter each day. To lend someone a smile and a kudos when you see them working hard towards their goals. Or simply to say, I see you, I appreciate you, and I love you. As always, yours truly. – Lin Green