Thursday, March 19, 2009

Life and Death

With the sudden loss of Natasha Richardson, I find this such a keen reminder how utterly slim the line is between life and death. Not to be morose... some of my friends have been facing this "fine line" daily.

My dear friend, Lisa (below), is a nurse who works in the intensive care unit (ICU), and she sees this life and death struggle daily. My Mom is also a nurse, and she works with cardio patients, and has had some heart-pounding experiences, to be sure. I love these ladies and their ability to help people in their true life-n-death battles.

Then there's my friend, Tina, who's been going through "the fight for life" with her brother, John, as he waits for a liver transplant. She actually has the incredible mindset to realize this time is precious and will someday be looked back on as The Good Old Days.

They're all incredible people.

And what does this have to do with Natasha Richardson? Well, like many folks, I was greatly saddened and shocked by her sudden death, and my heart goes out to her family.

I remember first seeing her in the film The Handmaid's Tale. I had just finished reading Margaret Atwood's novel, and was very interested to see the film. Natasha Richardson was luminous and perfectly cast as Offred, the fertile Handmaid. She was so intriguing and I kept an eye open for her other films, enjoying her work as Mary Shelley in Gothic, as Dr. Paula Olsen (pictured below with her husband Liam Neeson) with Jodie Foster's wild-child Nell, Disney's remake of The Parent Trap, and as one of the ugly step-sisters in the modern Cinderella tale with Jennifer Lopez, Maid in Manhattan. She was so brilliant at moving from drama to comedy, absolutely seamless, and I'm glad her work has been capured on film.

I didn't get to see her work on Broadway, and man, I wish I could have. I remember watching the Tony Awards and being mesmerized by her brief appearances as Anna Christie (with her husband Liam Neeson), her saucy Sally Bowles in Cabaret, and as Blanche Dubois in A Streetcar Named Desire. I'm inspired by her growth and work as an actress, going from Ibsen ingenues to Williams' tragic willow. Her range was obviously incredible.

Her passion for acting was "rivalled only by cooking," and she was quoted as saying (of acting), "The best feeling in the world is when you don't know what will happen next but you're in control... It's like flying."

I've been finding that feeling as well.

She was heralded as a "brave, tenacious, wonderful woman" and I salute her spirit. I am grateful for her inspiration as an artist and how she has made me think of all the brave and beautiful women in my life.

I pray her family will find comfort and healing during this challenging time.

Blessed be.

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