I remember August 31, 1997. I was sitting in my best friend’s living room watching television and chatting with her family. Suddenly a news flash interrupted our program to announce that Princess Diana was seriously injured in a major car accident and rushed to the hospital. I remember when the official word came that she had passed away. I remember the horrific pictures of the mangled limousine. I remember crying…a lot.
I never met Princess Diana. I never saw her anywhere except for magazine covers and on television. Yet, her death profoundly affected me. Likewise, my mother told be how clearly she remembers the day that President Kennedy was assassinated, almost as if it were yesterday. I’m sure most people you talk to who lived during that time can recall where they were when they heard the news that the President had been shot.
With the passing of Philip Seymour Hoffman this past weekend, I find myself reflecting on the way public people affect our lives when they die. I knew very little about Mr. Hoffman’s personal life, but I was enamored with his work. He was a true talent both on screen and on stage and I can’t recall a single one of his performances that I did not like. I know that he battled addiction in the past, so when he died Sunday of an apparent overdose it wasn’t really surprising. What was surprising is how much I find myself thinking about it. It really saddens me that Mr. Hoffman is no longer in this world. My heart breaks for his children and family. Yet at the same time, I’m furious with his reckless behavior that resulted in three young children losing their father (Yeah, yeah, I could go into the whole addiction is a disease, and I agree. But that is a conversation for another time. For now, these are my feelings).
I would have never thought that this man’s death would affect me in these ways. I mean, celebrities die all the time just like everyone else. In fact, there were several tragic celebrity deaths over the past year just as surprising and sad – Paul Walker’s car crash and Cory Monteith’s overdose come to mind. Yes, my heart and prayers went out to the loved ones of those people. But those deaths did not stayed with me. Many of them don’t. We all have those people who inspire us, that touch us our lives in one way or another, sometimes without even realizing it. And when those people leave us, I believe that is common when we are surprised by our own reaction. I may not remember the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman the way that I will always remember Princess Diana’s, but I will always appreciate the amazing work that he has left us.