How Bloody Awful.

January 23, 2008 at 12:11 am (Uncategorized)

By now you all know that Heath Ledger has died. I for one am slightly surprised by just how sad I feel about this – wonderful, charismatic, talented people die every day, and most of them don’t choose to go. It’s unclear right now if Ledger committed suicide or accidentally overdosed, but either way I think it’s a crying shame. What a waste of a young and exciting and creative life.

As I said to Llew this morning, still in that odd present tense of shock, “But he’s got a little girl… and he’s only a kid himself.”

I guessed 27, and I wasn’t far wrong. He was 28. That’s exactly twice the age Sam, my niece, lived to see, but all that realisation does is underline to me how young it is. I was having a great time at 28 – and I’m having a great time now, I’m glad to say – but I think it was really only at around that age that I started to really… own myself. I stopped feeling so insecure about my abilities and my appearance and my personality and my relationships and my decisions. I started to accept myself, and probably for the first time genuinely, wholly like myself. It was a long time coming, and I still have my days – even now an unfortunate photo will send me straight back to my late teens and early twenties, when I tortured myself with really painful lamentations about being the ugly one in my group of really gorgeous friends. But mostly I hold my head pretty high – I’m never going to be the best looking woman in the room, but who gives a shit? Happily, not me. Not anymore. I can’t see the point, and that’s because now I know beyond doubt that, well, there isn’t one.

I don’t know why youth is often spent focusing on the attributes we don’t possess, but at a certain point most of us, thank goodness, gain a real appreciation for those we do. It allows us to let all the other crap go. I don’t know if my personal development was typical in any sense, but I do recall knowing a lot of people in my twenties who were… how should I say this…? Totally fucked up. So I look at Heath Ledger and I think “Oh no, no, no, no, no – you were so close. You were so close to knowing you were okay. You were so close to knowing you could do it. Of course you could. It was never really in doubt.”

Instead, a young man, a young father, a young, handsome, talented boy from Perth and everything he had to come, everything he had within him, is lost to the world. I hope it was accidental. I hope he didn’t mean to snuff himself out. Because he was so close to reaching that golden age when I at least finally understood that we all have horrible doubts and fears and insecurities, including the most beautiful woman in the room, and that it’s all right.

POSTSCRIPT: Okay, there are reports coming through now that it was an accidental overdose on sleeping pills…I guess it’s too early to say, really, and meanwhile media speculation has gone into overdrive so there’s no telling what’s true just now. But I’d be oddly glad to know it was an accident – I for one would much, much prefer to believe he didn’t choose to leave his daughter, leave his life, leave his future, leave the man he was still to become. A terrible accident is a terrible thing, and Heath Ledger is unfortunately gone either way, but suicide is something else altogether, and I hope the latest reports do turn out to be true.

It’s now Tuesday 29 January. Once the dust started to settle and the media fog started to clear, it really became unlikely to me that Ledger did anything to take his own life. From the information that’s come out so far, I don’t believe that’s what happened. And I’m so glad. Sad, still really sad thinking about it, but also genuinely relieved for his family and the rest of his loved ones that it really seems he never meant to leave them so soon.

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