January 23, 2008


By Nate LaClaire


Those were the words that flashed in the corner of my computer screen at a few minutes after 5 pm Tuesday afternoon. I was working on a project for a client and had Outlook running when a FoxNews.com update arrived in my email Inbox. The message stopped me cold. It is amazing how quickly thoughts can come and yet how slow they can feel. I read the first word and thought, “that’s sad – an actor died. I wonder if it’s someone I know of?” Then I saw the name and my heart stopped. “He’s, like, my age,” I thought. I absentmindedly stopped the clock on my project and went first to IMDB to confirm his birthdate (he was actually 2 years older than I) and then to FoxNews.com to learn more. At that point, not much was known. As I write this, FoxNews.com has much more information than it did at that time and IMDB has this statement on its home page:

Actor Heath Ledger was found dead at a Manhattan apartment Tuesday afternoon in what appeared to be a possible drug-related death; he was 28.

I’ll come back to that in a moment.

I can’t explain why this has bothered me so much. People younger than I die every day and, while it saddens me, it doesn’t affect me like this. I wouldn’t call myself a Heath Ledger fan, although he was a good actor and I enjoyed a few of his movies. Perhaps it was just that initial shock of thinking the news update was referring to an elderly actor and then discovering it was a young actor. Or, perhaps, it was the fact that the headline made it sound like he was found on the streets of New York, the victim of a crime. In reality, it is unknown at this point if he died of an accidental overdose of sleeping medication, committed suicide, or died some other way.

That brings me back to the IMDB quote above… Immediately, IMDB casts a negative overtone over his death. Can those who are mourning not do so in peace? Must they immediately be made to put up with people suggesting he had a drug problem? That is what IMDB is suggesting, although they are being careful not to say it. That may be correct, but I’m sick of this stuff they pull.

Regarding perspective… (maybe this is what is bothering me) I was thinking this afternoon about where I might be in 2 years. This news gives me a new perspective on that. It makes me, more than ever, want to live my life to the fullest today and not put that off until tomorrow. None of us knows what will have happened by then.

Regarding my absence from posting to my blog: well, I’ve been busy.