I see my best friend every day after leaving math class. It's a short visit: generally, a hug, perhaps a few jokes, a sigh of sympathetic annoyance at the idiots in our classes or a curt acknowledgement of the pointlessness of existence. It's a small gesture: something small that gives us each the strength to carry on through the next two monotonous periods of write, respond, don't talk, think faster that we must endure before reuniting again at lunch.
This particular Thursday, I could tell immediately something was wrong.
I may not know "valuable" knowledge, or be able to rattle off the various parts of the heart, the brain. But I do know my friend. I knew from the moment I saw her slumped against the railing, the tightness of her shoulders, the drooping head, the pinched gait as she moved to greet me that something was wrong.
Ah, she has heard the news, too, then.
There, out in the chill January air, we stood numbly removed from the rest of the swarming mass heading off to classes. How can they keep their agenda and go about life per normal? Atlas has fallen and crushed the hearts of millions across the world with the weight of his absence. Being on time to third period is hardly a concern when your childhood is being smothered by the weight of six cubic feet of soil piling down upon your head, blocking out all access to the sun.
I clutched my friend, my lifeline in the turbulence. While neither of us could hope to pull the other out of the sea of grief and disbelief that consumed us both, we could, thankfully, still snatch for small glimpses of comfort. Our clasped hands were like those of sailors shipwrecked and left for dead. In order to survive the fallout of tragedy, we clung to the wreckage of our childhood and drifted aimlessly together in an ocean of emotion.
Somehow, life will go on. But I will never forget the influence of the man whose life brings—sorry, brought-me so much joy. This Shakespearean actor who voluntarily gave up the mantle of Othellos and Hamlets for the simple pleasure of honoring a sad, selfish man in a children's tale. He was a person who acted from the heart, and whose dulcet tones gave life to all performances; this man did not go about life hounding for a paycheck—all could see he truly loved his career and cared enough to ensure every minute inflection or minor gesture was just right. Whilst on camera, his emotion reached through the screen, magically making fiction believable. A man who gave a three-year-old girl a story to delight in, and later gave a lonely teenager similar experiences to commiserate with.
For now, I will continue typing his name into search bars, searching in vain for the possibility that this isn't true—surely it's some terrible hoax someone has dreamt up... right? But as the denial fades and truth bitterly sets in, weighing down the heart and making the eyes sting with tears that fall suddenly and all too quickly, I will continue to look fondly upon a remarkable man who I never knew, but whose work shaped my entire character.
Thank you for everything, Alan Rickman. I will miss you.