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.

Godspeed pal.

   MV5BMTcwMzk0NTQxNF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODY5ODkyMjE@._V1_UY317_CR6,0,214,317_AL_ James Hook

October 19, 1971   September 4, 2015





About Susannah Bianchi

I'm just a girl who likes to write slightly on slant. I've had a career in fashion, dabbled in film and to be honest, I don't like talking about myself. Now my posts are another matter so I will let them speak for themselves. My eBooks, A New York Diary, Model Behavior: Friends For Life and Notes From A Working Cat can be found on Amazon.com. Thanks.
This entry was posted in Faith, Family, friendship, Health, Home, kids, Love, men, New York City, parents and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

31 Responses to Heartbroken

  1. I lost an old friend on Monday in the same shocking way. Put his feet on the floor from bed and died right there just getting up for work. This news really gets us to the core. My mother, who watched this now man grow up, asks “why I am left here with this old useless body and this young man was taken from his family?” Let’s just say it’s been a rough week…
    I’m so sorry for your loss. James sounds like he was the kind of guy we’d all like to know. Heartbreaking indeed.


  2. skinnyuz2b says:

    I’m so sorry for the loss of your friend, Susannah. The shock of unexpectedly losing someone you have just seen or spoken to makes their passing all the more unbelievable.


  3. Elle Knowles says:

    You’re right Susannah. You never know when tragedy as this will hit you or someone close to you. Live life to the fullest lest you are next. Here one minute – gone the next. So sad when young children are a part of the equation. ~Elle

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The husband of a dear friend of mine had that same heart attack. Luckily he survived but it wasn’t easy. He’s had some other heart issues afterward and has to be vigilant. Oh yes, he’s 53 and this all happened two years ago. That was the same year that his wife had a melanoma spot taken out of her leg which left her with a gaping hole. It was like “bad news” visited them and didn’t know when to leave. I am sorry for your loss Susannah. Good people should not die young. We need more of them.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. MJ says:

    I didn’t know James, but when I heard of his tragic passing on Friday, it reminded me of my uncle, whose life had been snuffed out by the same killer on another sunny Friday in September. He was 45, and had also left two young children and a wife who looked more like a newly-wed than a widow. Like James, to all outward appearances he was the picture of good health, which made his death all the more shocking. Since my uncle was a teacher and athletic coach, a memorial scholarship was established in his name, which is a wonderful thing and often the case with educators. What lingers in the mind after all these years, though, is a tribute penned hours after his death by a student who did go on to write professionally. I’m glad you wrote about James.


    • I knew him for a long time, when he first stood on the show Ed. I’m shocked because he’s the last person I’d expect this to happen to, like he’d avoid it somehow, like working in the cold or extreme heat.

      His wife only gave birth in July. That’s what throws me. This tiny baby will never know her father.

      Life blows when something like this happens.

      Have four words for ya MJ…is the bar open.

      Thanks for writing.


  6. I do not believe that God simply chooses people, willy-nilly, to pass. I feel certain that it is much more complicated than that. As I believe all things work out in the end, my faith does not get shaken nearly as badly. However, I wouldn’t go to the widow and say, “Hey, be happy! This is part of God’s will.” What I believe, at least now, is that there are things on Earth that happy and that God uses those things (not causes them) to work together in the end. I am sorry if I am not saying this in such a way as to help people feel better. My bottom line is “God always uses, not always causes”.
    I am sorry for everyone’s loss. I may have one, too, not too awfully long in coming.


  7. MIke says:

    So sorry for your loss Susannah.
    I swear kindredspirit is my twin in spirit, so much he says is what I would tell you if I was as rational and grown up as he is. 🙂

    Having lost my dad before I had real long lasting memories of him was bad in that I too don’t know who my father was except for my sisters and mothers recounting of him.

    I have another way for you to look at the loss of your friend though. My step-dad who married my mom when I was 9 ended up being my dad. I hardly ever called him dad, always Gary but when I spoke to most other people the dad name was put on him. Yeah we had a rough patch but got through it. Now for Gary, when he met my mother she was a widow, an alcoholic and mother of 2 kids still at home. Gary had recently been butchered by the medical team doing early gastric bypasses in Iowa City, Iowa.(I say this because they sutured his intestines with number 9 wire that ended up poking a hole through his side and had to be removed. Along with some abscessed rib pieces.) Gary was rough and gregarious and my mom was the lady that made them a winning team. They were married for 27 years before he died way too early at the age of 55. My mom was 9 years older than Gary. I often wondered what would have become of Gary if he had not met my mom, I’m afraid he would have died much earlier and of course I would have never met him.

    When it comes to what GOD does, I think HE merely put the ball into play with Adam and Eve and sin had it’s way from then on. There is a choice involved, none of us our without sin, but we all have been Forgiven, another choice whether to accept it or not.

    I listened to this book I got from Audible called “The Shack”, it is a fictional story of a man that has his six year old daughter murdered. The beginning of the book for the first few chapters are very dark but as the story goes on the man is invited back to where his daughter lost her life. There he meets with the HOLY TRINITY, THE FATHER, THE SON and THE HOLY GHOST. The man learns that while GOD did not stop what happened, HE uses the situation as kindredspirit123 said, for good.

    Go listen to the whole book here it will open your eyes and give you HOPE and maybe some FAITH (the opposite of faith is certainty). http://tinyurl.com/the-shack-audio


  8. That’s tragic, Susannah. So sorry to hear that.


  9. Barbara Christie says:

    Dear Susannah,
    Thank you for writing such a beautiful tribute for James. Tim Wilson sent me a copy.
    I was stunned and saddened to learn of his death. James and I worked together as stand-ins a number of times. Like you, I remember meeting him many years ago on Ed.
    I appreciate your reflections. I think they provided some small comfort to many people.

    Best regards,
    Barbara Christie


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