Christopher Hitchens passed away a few weeks ago. I didn’t know if you’d heard. He died Dec 15, 2011, a dark day for humanity. I can’t say that I knew him but I can say with certainty that I’ll miss him. The body of his work as a journalist, an essayist, an author and an activist has left a profound impression on me and I’ve long considered him one of the most brilliant people to have graced us with his words. He was a man of uncommon integrity. In many ways unconventional, almost always controversial, and relentlessly committed to seeking and revealing truth.
It’s strange to me that I could feel the loss of a person I’ve never met. I admit I’ve felt it before, just a few times. I was 17 when Chris Farley died. I remember lamenting the certain fact that never again would I watch a new skit of his on SNL or go to the theater to see his latest comedy. I felt it again six months later when the news broke of Phil Hartman’s tragic end. What a tremendous loss – these comedic geniuses whose work brought such joy to my life. A few years later, John Ritter died suddenly and I felt as though I’d lost an old friend. I grew up watching Three’s Company and his death literally felt tantamount to one of a childhood pal.
I didn’t learn of Hitchens’s death until a week or so had passed. I saw this amazing video someone put together and posted on youtube and quickly jumped over to google to search for information, for facts, since, as you know, the internet can sometimes spread false rumors. Sadly, the truth of his death could not be denied and I sat stunned and heartbroken. I can say with absolute certainty now that I will never have an opportunity to see him speak, to listen first-hand to him say the words that have stuck with me for years. I will never again read something new he’s written. I will never find an opportunity to meet him, to shake his hand and tell him how much his work has shaped the person I’ve become.
Who will you miss, of those you’ve never met but who have, in whatever way, been such a part of your life that you’ll mourn them, anyway?