By A.J. Llewellyn
Like just about everybody else in the world, I was shocked and deeply saddened by the tragic passing of actress Natasha Richardson yesterday.
I didn't know her well, in fact, I knew her only to say hello to and this is the reason I decided to blog about her today.
I met her a few years ago in New York City. The apartment she and her family had was the only other apartment on the same floor as my friend Crystal's apartment and I stayed there for a few weeks to help Crystal sort through her grandma's belongings when she died.
Natasha and her family were private, lovely people. To this day I have no idea if this was their permanent residence or a pied-à-terre , but the first time I encountered Natasha by the elevator I was struck by her beauty and her natural warmth. She had a smile a mile wide and she never seemed happier than when she was with her husband and children.
The second time I saw her, we rode the elevator in the lobby. These were private people and unlike Los Angeles, in New York, it's almost mandated that you pretend not to recognize a celebrity.
I have disliked seeing her portrayed as "Hollywood Royalty" in the media since she died as a result of a freak skiing accident. She was not Hollywood. She was a wife and mother whose acting legacy goes far beyond the movie business.
What I treasure most was the moment she and I came out of the lobby, that day. Natasha's husband, actor Liam Neeson was coming out of a taxi. I will never forget the way his face lit up at the mere sight of her, or at the way she looked at him.
I have held onto that memory and used it as a model for my Phantom Lover characters Kimo and Lopaka and for Jimmy and Tem in the vampire series.
What struck me was that this couple at that time, must have been together for 12 or 13 years, yet the sizzle between them was tangible. I have seen this crackle of electricity between my friends Tracy and Chris, also a long term couple. It's my inspiration and confirmation of hope to see this kind of love.
Yesterday, when the first news reports cropped up of her accident, I felt a tremor of terror when I read that she was laughing and joking after she fell during a ski lesson. Afterward, she complained of headaches.
I feared the worst because this was how my friend Pedro Alcazar died. A lovely, talented boxer, he lost a brutal fight to Fernando Montiel at the MGM in Las Vegas a few years ago. I spoke to him after the fight and he was crying.
He kept saying, "I can't go home without my belt. I can't go home without my championship." He was subdued hours afterward when I spotted him in the casino with his friends.
I asked how he was doing. He said he had a headache. As we spoke, the ringside physician who had treated him after the fight was stopped, urged him to go to the emergency room.
He didn't. I have always wondered what would have happened if he had because the next day, I saw him again and he still had the headache.
The next morning, he was dead. Gone. The autopsy said his brain had swollen and bled out as a result of blunt force trauma.
My heart still aches for the three children he left behind, that he was raising as a single father.
And now, another wonderful human has left us.
I don't know why God takes away such bright, loving people, but continues to give breath to serial killers, child rapists and con men. It's a fact of life and love nobody can ever explain to any satisfaction to me.
All I can think of today, as I can only imagine what her husband and sons are dealing with is the line from Yeats in The Wild Swans at Coole:
"I have gazed upon these brilliant creatures and now my heart is sore."