“He has to recover, he’s all I have left, he’s my last surviving child.” – Mary Vandross
This is something I’ve never addressed in all the years I’ve been writing and blogging, either because I never knew what to write, or how to put it into words that would do it justice. Admittedly, I’m still a little clueless on that. But as I was on my way home earlier this afternoon, I caught Luther Vandross’s version of Endless Love on the radio, and even though I’ve heard this song countless times over the years, the mood I was in made me more affected by the song than I had ever been before, and it got me thinking.
I grew up listening to Luther Vandross; my mom always joked that she loved listening to him because my dad was tone-deaf and she had to seek comfort elsewhere. And as I got older and music became my first love, I learnt to appreciate his music, his style, and his voice, all of which formed a certain ethereal quality that nobody in his genre — not even Brian McKnight or Boyz II Men, with all their vocal acrobatics and ranges — has ever been able to come close to.
I was extremely saddened when I learnt of his passing in 2005; to me, it was the end of an era, the passing of a King. I thought it just didn’t seem right that he had to go at the relatively young age of 54; I thought he would continue singing until the ripe old age of 80, much like another superstar from the Golden Age of Hollywood had, and then live quietly until God called him Home. When I think about how a mere fan like me, who regrettably never got the chance to watch him perform live, was affected by his death, I can only imagine how those who had been close to him — both from the entertainment industry and his personal circle of friends and family — would have suffered from this loss.
Now, three and a half years later, at a time in my life when I’m facing a loss of my own — which admittedly and thankfully is nowhere near death, but seems to have caused something to die within me all the same — I wonder how it must really have been like to lose someone so dear. How would his mother, whose public statement following his first stroke in 2003 touched the world, have had the strength to bear of the pain of burying the only person she had left in the world? How would his former lovers have taken the news that someone they had loved, someone who had possibly been their first love, was gone, and they had never had a chance to say goodbye?
To the industry greats who had lived, loved and been an inspiration to all — to Luther Vandross, Selena, Aaliyah, Heath Ledger, Bernie Mac, and all the others who had given their lives to their art and then to God: Be in peace.
Dance With My Father, Luther Vandross
1951 — 2005
Dreaming Of You, Selena (opening scenes taken from the movie Selena starring Jennifer Lopez)
1971 — 1995
The One I Gave My Heart To, Aaliyah
1979 — 2001
10 Things I Hate About You, Heath Ledger
1979 — 2008
Kings Of Comedy, Bernie Mac
1957 — 2008