2016 was not kind to the entertainment world. We lost many of our beloved artists to the pearly gates. Musicians David Bowie, Leonard Cohen, and Prince. Actors Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, and Alan Rickman. Authors Richard Adams, Umberto Eco, and Harper Lee.
The loss of George Michael, for me, was instant heartbreak. I still remember the first time I danced to the Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go video while getting ready for school in the fourth grade. There was Faith in junior high, Praying for Time in high school, and Older in college. In 2008, I had the honor to see him perform with gut-wrenching emotion during his 25 Live Tour. The voice, the artistry, the charitable heart. For me, George Michael sang the soundtrack of my life.
Whether these artists succumbed to addiction, illness, or old age, they flooded our lives with memories. We reminisce about the joy they brought us through their work or find inspiration in their life stories.
It can be hard to say goodbye.
It is no wonder we look to hold onto their art as long as we can. Music sales skyrocket. Movies play on small and large screens. Books fly off the shelves. We honor their memory as if we were blessed with their work for the first time.
I already owned all of George Michael’s albums, had his songs in my favorite playlists, and blared a Freedom ’90 ringtone with every call for the past eight years. Still, I hopped on the “I-want-more” bandwagon too. I started watching many of George’s live performances. What a performer!
Then I thought to myself, why haven’t I seen some of these videos before? More to the point, why do any of us wait to seek out the good? Instead, we wait until these artists pass away before we appreciate what they really have to offer. Like too many things in life, we take them for granted. We expect them to be there for us when we need them.
For that matter, what about the people in our own lives, the people who touch us every day? I started to think about family members and friends, how proud I am of their accomplishments. I recalled so many of the patients I have met, their stories of survival and perseverance. Let me not forget the teachers and religious figures, the police and firemen, the waitresses and cooks, the small business owners, even the random guy who let me drive through the intersection first.
There is so much good around us amid the craziness of a world that thrives on negative headlines. I choose to focus on that goodness.
The word obituary literally means a notice of death. The traditional obituary highlights the accomplishments in a person’s life. It is a way to honor a legacy. On the other extreme, we make birth announcements because who doesn’t love to ooh and aah at the sweetness of tiny hands and feet? The joy of new life inspires us with hope.
In these ways, we celebrate the beginning and end of life, but what happens to life in the middle? After all, this is when we really live!
We celebrate holidays and birthdays, but there is more to celebrate in life than a handful of days each year. For that reason, I am taking action. I am inventing my own life announcement, a live-it-uary! Once a month, I will highlight the life of someone I know, someone I have met, or someone I hope to meet.
People deserve to be appreciated in the now. This is when it matters most. Let us learn to celebrate every moment.