I didn’t know Amy Winehouse.
I never called her on the phone and said, “What’s up SLUT?” like I do my best friends. I’d never been to see her play in concert and I never said the one thing I always wanted to: “eat a fucking sandwich.” These are all things I’d lovingly say to my bestest of friends.
I never knew Corey Haim, either.
I’m barely up on whatever Hollywood is doing this week, if it doesn’t involve my television husbands, Dexter or Dr. House. And even those two, I couldn’t tell you where they lunch or who they’re dating (besides me obvs) because I don’t much care. I was a strict Corey Feldman fan myself – if I had to choose – and the only reason I knew much about him was through his television show, The Two Coreys.
And yet, when they died, I was gutted. On the floor and weeping like they were my very closest friends.
But I knew those two had once had something special: a sparkle. A shine. Something that set them apart from the rest of us shmos, trudging along in the dirt, eking out a living.
And I also know someone else who died who bore the very same sparkle like a noose around her neck. Someone who I’d watched drown that sparkle in the bottle, unable to find her happyiness in this world. Someone else found dead in her bed. Another star snuffed out.
Now, I know addicts. My parents are in recovery now, but I grew up like so many of us did, in the shadow of that bottle. I know the hunger, the itching deep within the bones only tamed by the bottle or the pill. I understand.
Perhaps it is because of this that I never blamed myself for her death. I knew better. An addict is an addict and sobriety is a choice. Not the kind of choice that someone else can make for you. But that doesn’t stop me from weeping into my coffee cup, gutted by the loss of someone that sparkled. It hits too close to home, perhaps, or maybe I’m just getting soft in my old age.
If I’ve learned nothing of addiction beyond a jaw-grind disposition to a panic attack, I’ve learned this: those whom you love – those who love you back – they are a part of you. Always. And however corny it may sound, life is precious. No, that’s not right. Life is FUCKING precious. Wait, let me try that again, just for Stef: Life is MOTHERFUCKING precious.
I’ve also learned this: born of tragedy, sometimes that too, can be magical.