On Birthdays and Celebrity Deaths
I celebrated my 41st birthday on Thursday.
Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson both passed away on Thursday.
Late on Thursday and into Friday I was getting questions like “What’s it like to have your birthday forever marred?” and “What’s it like to have your birthday on a day of national tragedy?”
I was stunned to get these questions.
Fawcett was an iconic actress and an inspiration to many people for the way she lived her final months. Jackson was a talented singer/songwriter/dancer who revolutionized music in the 80s with Off the Wall and Thriller and inspired many to become musical artists (and, of course, he was a recurring feature in gossip rags for his rather eccentric lifestyle of the past decade).
Do their deaths cast a shadow on my birthday? Not so much. It’s not like I lost a friend or even an acquaintance. Yes, it sad two talented people died. But, depending on the source you look at, somewhere around 100,000 people die in the world everyday. It’s just that most of them didn’t have the notoriety of Fawcett and Jackson to make world news. Even Fawcett was overshadowed, along with every other news story, by Jackson. It was hard to catch any other news, especially on TV, since it was mostly wall-to-wall coverage of Jackson’s life and death. Makes you wonder if people’s priorities are in order.
To some, I’m sure this makes me sound cold so let me elaborate on a date that does carry weight for me. Will and I were married on September 7, 1997, that’s eight days after Princess Diana’s death and one day after her funeral. (Of course I didn’t know her personally, but the world lost someone who worked hard to make the world a better place that it was sad to me that she passed away so senselessly.) Four years later, just four days after our anniversary, 9/11 happened. While not directly on our wedding day, those are two massive historical events that resonate on our anniversary. At least for me, the deaths of this past week (and let’s not forget that Ed McMahon passed away on Tuesday) do not come close to the impact of these two moments in history.