Wednesday, January 23, 2008

R.I.P. Heath Ledger

I feel like I should say something about my own reaction to the Heath Ledger death before I let it go. Because I do feel that soon it will be best to move on and let it go.

My first reaction was utter disbelief. I'd first heard from unreliable sources, and I literally didn't believe it. But then, once the news was confirmed, it just seemed more and more like this was inevitable... it seemed to make a kind of sense... or maybe that's just how I've had to frame it in my head in order to make peace with it and move on.

I'd lost track of Heath Ledger lately; the "Brokeback fever" that I and so many others had felt for months after that film's release had gradually died down, and I was looking forward to his new work as the Joker, and any other films he'd be making. But I hadn't been thinking about him frequently, hadn't been hearing about him in the news, hadn't been following the circumstances of his life.

And then just two days ago - a day before all this happened - I happened to stumble upon the news that Heath had been spotted dating some model, and I thought "that can't be true, he's with Michelle Williams, and they have a child" and then of course I learned that they were no longer together. And right then, something seemed wrong. That was one celebrity split that didn't seem to make sense. Everything seemed different from the way it was supposed to be... and in retrospect it really had felt like a precursor to something else. I don't know if the split really had anything to do with this, but it had seemed that Heath had not been well lately, there'd been rumors about his friends being worried, his turning down roles, etc. And then this.

I'm not sure how to react to it except to assume that it is part of a greater plan, that we can all learn from it, and that it makes a kind of cosmic sense, simply because it is what happened. And it always will be what happened. I hope that doesn't sound morbid. But I think there is value sometimes in simply taking things as they are, and trying to find some sense in them.

I prefer to think of his daughter not in terms of the tragic loss of her father, but as one of his many gifts to the world, as a continuation of himself, and as a way he'll always be with us. Ditto Ennis Del Mar and his many other touching performances. He could have given us much more, but that was simply not to be. We can only be thankful for what he was able to give us.

Oddly, this triggered a memory I've had... one that now seems to exist out of time... but I have this strange recollection of one day, years ago, checking Heath Ledger's IMDB page and swearing that I saw a date of death... that his life and career were over before they'd begun. This makes little sense, I know, but I felt the need to share it, cause the memory seems very real to me even though it obviously wasn't. This was before Brokeback, before everything... I guess it was just some metaphorical extension of his career oblivion that I'd managed to create in my head. I suppose it's not really even a memory, but rather some kind of dream... but like some dreams, it seems like it's always been there and has been in my head forever, even if it was just created yesterday... and still lingers... and now feels eerily prescient. Just like Heath's tragic death scene in Monster's Ball. So sad.

Forgive me, but this brings me to a favorite Battlestar Galactica axiom:

"If you believe in this gods, then you believe in the cycle of time... that we're all playing our parts in a story that is repeated again and again and again throughout history."

And Heath played his own beautiful role. May he find peace wherever he is now.



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