I’ve been meaning to post something on my personal blog for a while, though I’ve never gotten around to it. Life just sort of, throws you in at the deep end sometimes, while you tread water, hoping that you’re still kicking. In a way, there’s a morbid fascination to it. In one moment, you’re fantasizing about what it’s like to drown, the next you can’t breathe. Of course, I’m speaking metaphorically… But that’s what life is, right?
Two people that I deeply respected, admired and followed for many years died quite recently. They weren’t family members or even friends, but iconic characters of their time. Both of their deaths affected me in different ways; they died in the same month just two weeks apart.
One was Margot Kidder. She was, and always will be, my Lois Lane. I knew her as a character intimately when I was a kid. She was everything I had ever dreamed of being. A ballsy, sharp, level-headed reporter with a way of talking herself out of (and into) danger. When I read of Margot’s passing from the Christopher Reeve Foundation as I was scrolling through Facebook, I sat there in stunned silence. And that sentence right there was probably the kicker. It brought back all the moments I loved between Chris and Margot on screen.
Margot and Chris were good friends while they were on the set of Superman and Superman II. They were also fiercely loyal to Superman’s Director, Richard Donner; it was one of the reasons why Margot only came back for smaller parts in 3 and 4. I recently stumbled across a photo of the two of them together at Niagara Falls, on the set of Superman II. And I remembered that just last year, I was stood in the exact same place as two of my heroes. To many people, the death of these two actors and the characters they played on screen would just be a passing sadness. But to me, they were my childhood. A little bit of my childhood died; I’ll never get it back. Yet there’s a bitter sweetness to it, knowing that Superman caught Lois as she fell away.
The second, was a man who was diagnosed with bowel cancer several years ago. John ‘TotalBiscuit’ Bain was a very talented, vocal gaming critic who found fame through YouTube. I was lucky enough to meet him at a UK convention run by his long-time friend, Jesse Cox. Back then, he was suffering through Chemotherapy and, while undoubtedly in a lot of pain, sat for 8 hours at a table signing, meeting and greeting fans.
It was that year that I got on the train back from Telford, when I bumped into him at the train station. He was heading north to see family, listening to music, waiting for the train while people stood around him shivering in excitement. It was odd, I guess, seeing him in a normal setting around normal people, doing normal everyday things. But that’s just it, he wasn’t a celebrity, he didn’t let his status define him, instead he stood up for the little people; the indie game developers who were short on money, the gamers who had no voice. And he sure as hell helped people through rough times just by doing his own thing, and doing it damn well.
In late May, John Bain passed away peacefully. My heart broke for his wife Genna and their son. He was 33, just five years older than me. That puts things into perspective.
It wasn’t too long ago that I found myself in hospital undergoing an investigation. I sat and spoke to two women; one with pneumonia and the other who had cancer. And there I was sitting, panicking that I had just fainted and knowing that I was sat with two women that had much bigger problems than me. I felt terrible.
Something triggered in me then. And it’s still working it’s way through my brain now. It happened the other day when I was sat basking in the beautiful sunshine in our garden. I watched the birds have a dirt bath. And then, much later, watched another bird bathe in my neighbour’s stone water basin, flicking its feathers while the water jumped off its back. I realised that sometimes you don’t need to be moving forward in life, sometimes you need to stand (or sit) still and watch everything else happen around you.
Perhaps it’s the best advice I can give anyone who reads this. Letting things happen around you doesn’t mean that things are out of control. It doesn’t mean that you can’t help influence change. But it does give you time to assess what the right course of action may be. Sometimes doing nothing but watching and listening means everything to one person, allowing them to heal. Be content with who you are, allow yourself the time to – quite literally – stop and smell the roses because time is something we never get back. Know that it’s okay to stand still.
If you enjoyed John Bain’s content and would like to help support his family during this difficult time, please visit their Go Fund Me page, set up by his fans with all monies raised going to Genna Bain.
For those of you who have yet to come across the internationally acclaimed author Garth Nix, you are certainly missing out on a big bucket of deliciously chewy treats: a fantastic fantasy series aptly named The Old Kingdom Trilogy, featuring all things good, bad and witty. Starting with Sabriel, originally a stand-alone novel, Nix penned his two sequels Lirael and Abhorsen with such attentive delicacy that it is certainly hard to imagine my life without the story revolving around Lirael.
I can hear the cliché bells ringing when I say that this story changed my childhood.
But whether you choose to believe me or not, I respected the fictional character of Lirael. In a world where everything presents itself as fake, selfish and image based, the character of Lirael represented the opposite of the popular trend.