Forever 22.

I am at a loss for words.

Every single time a celebrity dies, I always think of my favorites and hope to God I never have to experience losing someone I idolize so dearly. But the older I get, the more I’m faced with losing people I cherish, people I don’t even know on a personal level.

It started with Cory Monteith, and I wasn’t even his biggest fan, but it hurt me so much to learn about his death. I hurt for him, I hurt for Lea, I hurt for my best friend Jenn who loved Cory more than anyone else I knew. His death brought her back to me after a falling out, and I’m forever grateful of it, but it’s still so heartbreaking. To this day, I can’t listen to his Glee songs, to this day the only episode of Glee I can watch is the Quarterback.

Cory’s death made the deaths of celebrities feel very real for me. It became personal. I wasn’t a fan of Michael Jackson, and I only knew who Brittany Murphy was after googling her name and seeing her face. But Cory’s was the first one that made my heart stop, knocked the wind outta my lungs, made me sob.

I was in the car when I heard about Robin Williams. I found out on twitter and my only response was “oh my god.” To which my parents asked what was going on and I relayed the information to them. His death came as a shock to me, and I think it was the nature of it. It hit close to home. I understood his struggle, I understood his decision to finally give in. I didn’t cry because I sympathized with him. I knew he was at peace, even if that peace came from tragedy.

Learning about Prince was another story, however. It shocked me, it saddened me. I grew up listening to his music thanks to my mother who was and still is such a huge fan of his. His death brought his music back to me and for the first time, I saw my mother grieve for someone she loved, someone she didn’t know personally.

Christina Grimmie’s death hurts me in such a way that I cannot describe in words. She was only 22. I’m 22. I found her on youtube and my sister and I would send each other her covers constantly. She had talent I could only hope to obtain. She was kind and sweet and generous. She had so much passion in her music, so much hope to make it big, to be discovered. And when she was on the Voice, I literally screamed. I cheered so loudly, my parents didn’t understand what was truly going on. And then I explained to them how I had discovered her years prior. I explained that I was already a fan, I told them she would win the entire thing.

After the Voice, I didn’t follow her career too closely. I unsubscribed to her youtube videos. I never bought her original music. To call myself a fan right now seems cheap and fake, because I’m not an active fan of hers. I wouldn’t have gone to see her in concert.

But for someone to just. Go to her show, target her and only her, and shoot her dead before shooting himself. I just.

I can’t believe it happened. It’s such a tragedy. She was only 22. She had her entire life ahead of her with so much potential for a glowing music career. And someone took that away from her. In front of her fans. While she was signing for them and making their dreams come true. While she was being her generous and kindhearted self. While she was living her dream, and happy.

She will forever be 22 years old. And I just can’t process that because I’m the same exact age. I have plans in my near future, I have dreams for my distant future. And so easily, so quickly, my life could also be snuffed out by disaster. My life could also freeze at age 22 and never go on. It’s eye-opening, even more eye-opening for me than other shootings have been because I knew her. I knew who she was, I watched her grow up on Youtube. She wasn’t just a face tied to a tragic story, and I think that’s why it’s unsettling for me.

I went to Toronto in November 2015 to visit a friend. Together we went to a Finger Eleven show and outside the venue, we were pat down. I had my purse completely rummaged through. My medications were questioned, the bottles opened and sifted through. I had to explain to them what each one was used for and why I needed them at the show. I felt violated in that moment. But I also felt safe. I turned to my friend who was so used to this and told him that in America, they don’t do this. In America, they shine a flashlight into your bag, pat it a little, and send you on your way. In America, you can enter a venue with a concealed weapon because no one touches you and no one questions you. No one is a suspect here, while everyone is a suspect there.

I feel like this way of search should be implemented in the States. I’ve been saying it since November. Every time I enter a venue without my bag searched, I think about my experience in Toronto. I think about the possibility that someone could sneak a gun into a show or into comic con (where my bag wasn’t even looked through at all) and shoot up the place.

News reports are claiming that officials at this venue in Orlando have stated they don’t know how someone could get a gun (he had two, actually) in without their knowledge, but I know very well how.

It’s such a shame what happened to Christina Grimmie. I went to sleep praying to a God I don’t believe in to give her strength to survive her injuries. I went to sleep praying I wouldn’t wake up to hear that she died, and I did. That’s exactly what happened. My heart breaks for her family, her friends, her fans, and every single person like me who finds it unnerving because of her age, because it could happen to any of us.

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