I'm going to go on a few tangents here. Bear with me.
My instant reactions: shock, sorrow... and anger. The sorrow because he really was a tremendously gifted actor, and had so much there. The anger? He has a two-year-old daughter. And... dammit, when you have a kid, you lose the right to bow out like that. You cannot do that to a kid.
Over the course of the evening, other reactions set in, and some of them are stuff I never talk about. So.
When I was fourteen, I tried to kill myself and ended up in the junior loony bin.
This was the '80s. This is what you do when you don't know what to do with your kid: you stick them in the junior loony bin til your insurance runs out. (No, dear college-age readers, I'm not joking. This happened to many a misfit.)
When you're in a situation like that, you form hard-and-fast bonds. So a bunch of us kept track of each other when we got out.
Within three years, half of us had died. Suicide or probable-suicide in the form of really excessive drug overdose. Jason. Mikey. Ben. Connor. Rachel. The rest of us? We drifted apart. Because holy fucking shit, guys, when you're sixteen, seventeen, and another fucking one of the people you bonded to offs themselves... you get to a point where you can't take it any more. You can't take losing anyone else - you can't take knowing about losing anyone else.
For all I know, I am the sole survivor of my childhood and adolescence.
I identify with a lot of characters in Rent. But one most of all. Mark.
"Perhaps it's because I'm the one of us to survive..."
Part of why I never did off myself is because I had to know, have to know, what happens next. I cannot leave my story in the middle.
But part of it? I alone have escaped to tell you. Someone has to remember.
It's why I write Walking on Water. Someone has to remember.
So yeah. There's the hollow crushing shock of losing someone I've never met, in large part because I have wrestled those demons and survived and many people did not. And there's the frustratingly outlet-free anger that he did this to his child. Because when you have a kid, you cannot do that shit. You live for that child. I live for mine. Even when things were at their worst, I have lived for my daughter.
I haven't been in that place for a long time. But I still have the map that led me out. And I remember those we lost along the way.
I've played this song for feste_sylvain before. But I don't know how much he Got It til I played it for him tonight, after talking to him about this stuff. If I had to limit the playlist at the core of my Self to five songs, this would make the cut. In Shayara, I have gifted it to Fenris and Julia.
"If I Ever Leave This World Alive", by Flogging Molly.
*raises a glass* To my friends from the loony bin. To my friends from Vegas. To everyone we lost along the way, everyone who fell seven times and just could not get up the eighth. To a guy I never knew, whose movies I enjoyed.