In Loving Memory: Heath Ledger

By Jamie TworkowskiJanuary 23, 2008

My friend Josh texted me this afternoon, before either of us had heard the news. Josh lives in Lower Manhattan and wrote to say that i missed an epic game of Scrabble last night in NYC. Coffee, laughter and impossible words had my friends up ’til 4 in the morning. Josh wrote to say that he wished i could have been there. His text made me smile, and i wished it too.

That text meant a lot to me, as i really love the folks who gathered for that game. And obviously, it was less about the Scrabble and more about the people. We need to laugh. We need to talk. We need to play. Heath Ledger died a few blocks from that Scrabble game. i wish he could have been there.

i refuse to write based on speculation and i refuse to recycle rumors. There’s plenty of that happening on television and online tonight. A copy-and-paste blog wouldn’t do much good. So, instead, we’ll say these things…

We at TWLOHA believe that every life matters. And every story matters. We believe that there is power in words, that honesty and community are essential, and we believe that there is value in creativity as well. There is freedom in all these things.

Today we were reminded that life is fragile and complex, and that death is real. If there is something true to find among the rumors, it might be this: Pain is real. Life is hard. (Yes, even for famous people.) Medicine can bring healing. Abused or misunderstood, it can also bring death.

People get stuck in moments. Hearts break and don’t fix easy. Love is nothing easy. It is not cheap. It is the greatest thing that happens on this planet, and so it comes priced as gold. One of my best friends used to sing the words “love is war”. There is the fight for holding on. And the fight for letting go. The hardest thing i have ever experienced is the learning which and when. But i still say it’s worth it, that love is real and possible. There are things worth fighting for, and love is at the top of the list…

i don’t know the details of Heath Ledger’s life or death. Like i said, it doesn’t feel like my place to guess. He was an artist, and in that – he was a damn good one. And the little bit i’ve read suggests he was a man who had no interest in the celebrity game – he saw right through it. He desired to be a person, not a product. He desired real things. He valued love. He believed in it. He was a father. The great tragedy of this day is not that the world lost a famous actor. The great tragedy is that a little girl lost her daddy today. Sisters lost a brother and parents lost a son. A story ended much too soon.

But we are still here, you and me… And so the question is what to do with that. What to do with the news of the day, and this air that still remains in our lungs. i would say these things: You are not alone. Your life matters. Your story is important. You are alive tonight for a reason. You were created to love and to be loved. You were not meant to be alone. You are not alone. You were meant to do life with other people. You need people who know you. You need to know people. Your voice matters.

And if you are a person in need of help, please know that help is real. We often say that “rescue is possible”. We say that because we believe it to be true. The issues we speak to – these issues are treatable. But we have to take the first step. We have to choose help. We have to choose to live healthy lives.

We are certainly strong. But we are also certainly fragile. Please be careful.

On behalf of the TWLOHA team, i want to say that our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Heath Ledger tonight.

Peace to you tonight.

ps: Here is a link to Rolling Stone’s 2006 cover story on Heath Ledger.

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