Thursday, March 19, 2009

Mourning Natasha Richardson

Last Year I saw Vanessa Redgrave give an amazing, heartfelt performance in The Year of Magical Thinking. Though I had quibbles with the show, there was something profound about Redgrave’s performance of a woman dealing with the loss of her husband and daughter.

With Natasha Richardson’s very sad passing, that show keeps coming back into my head. I just keep thinking about the emotional reserves Redgrave must have tapped into to play Joan Didion each night and the way she lived—for the run of the show—as a childless mother. Did that experience prepare her in any small way to deal with her own daughter’s death? Will knowing Didion and Didion’s experience so intimately provide any kind of guide for how to get through this?

It’s probably a small and weird thing to be focusing on here, but it’s easier to ponder than all the ways we’re apparently always at death’s door. By the news accounts to-date, Richardson’s fall was a normal one, not some Sonny-Bono-into-a-tree sort of scenario. Everyone who has learned to ski has fallen plenty, and I never once wore a helmet all the times I went skiing in Vermont. No one else on the slopes was wearing one either. And it’s not just skiing; freak accidents like this suggest that the wrong tumble at any time or place could do a person in. I think that’s part of the reason why Richardson’s death has gotten so much media coverage and seems to have captured people’s attention. For all the resilience we have, we’re simultaneously extraordinarily frail.


rena said...

I can't imagine the pain a parent feels when losing a child! Just awful.
Your last sentence is so true.

Tina said...

Very well said - all of it. I meant to read the Didion book when you first wrote about it. I must do it now.

This is actually something that pops into my head every once in a while walking through the hospital. We can walk away from car wrecks where the jaws of life are required. We can slip in the shower and never wake up.

Live it. Fully.