It always feels a little odd to mourn someone you never knew or never met, but the pain of their loss isn’t any less real.
For me, when Harper Lee passed away, it was like I lost an old friend. She wrote the character of Scout Finch, who was a representation of herself, and might as well have been a representation of me.
Scout, as a child, was sassy and curious and asked way too many questions for a girl her age. As an adult in Go Set a Watchman, Scout was a free-thinking feminist trying to reconcile the life she grew up knowing and the realities of her life in her 20s. While I don’t live in Alabama and I didn’t grow up in the middle of the civil rights movement, I think Ms. Lee and I would still have been able to find a lot in common. Scout was in both of us.
When an author or a musician or an actor can just get you, they become important in a way that people you know “in real life” rarely can achieve. It’s hard for a friend or a relative to read into your soul and really understand who you are.
We’re only through February and 2016 has already been a rough year for deaths of celebrities. Harper Lee, David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Natalie Cole. It really doesn’t matter that we didn’t really know them, because we did. They were the ones who got us. We knew them through their work, and they left pieces of themselves behind for us to treasure forever.
That’s all anyone can really hope for in this world. Be loved by someone, and allow them in enough so that they remember the best pieces of you.