An actor I know, 44 years old, father of two young children died of a heart attack this past Friday. Just like that, gone, never to grace us again.
This is a good a time as any to ask God, “What the hell were you thinking? His youngest child is two months old. What, did you just have a bad day?”
This is when faith shakes like it’s doing the hula.
I worked with James a lot, and though I can’t say we were close friends, if there’s such a thing as close acquaintances, then that we were.
I’d be remiss not saying how handsome he was…tall, imposing, with an indelible smirk happy to greet you anytime, anywhere.
He was the one you went to when you wanted to know something…always versed, in the know, willing to share with all of us deer caught chronically in the headlights.
The last time I saw him he was wearing his navy suit sitting by a window reading a newspaper. He gave me his best Cheshire grin as we acknowledged one another from across the room.
When I think it was only a few short weeks ago, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t completely thrown by the news of his passing. As we’re caught up in the minutia of daily life worrying about so much that ultimately doesn’t matter, a blow like this, to lose someone’s presence like a sniper shooting, sobers you up as if water was dumped on your head.
He suffered the heart attacks of all heart attacks. It was Oswald at the Book Depository getting off one clean shot which explains why it’s called the Widow-maker.
Once hit you rarely survive.
It’s 100% blockage of the left anterior descending artery (LAD) stopping the heart’s blood flow particularly targeting men in their 40s.
But hey, why James? I could provide a list of much worthier candidates.
His wife Nicole, whom he married in 2004, will now raise their children alone. I can’t imagine what she must be feeling…numbness, disbelief, fear of all fears.
Well acquainted with grief I can only say, it’s like being in a tunnel you think you’ll never ever come out of, but you do, you just don’t know exactly when.
I truly believe she’ll rally, and through her and their children and those of us who knew him, he will live on.
He’ll be smiling in his navy suit, legs elegantly crossed…reading a newspaper with a baby sprawled on his lap…for all eternity.
Those of us who mourn, will always remember, he died with his boots on.
October 19, 1971 September 4, 2015