I learned of the death of two people who had a tremendous impact on my life last week: One you've heard of and one you probably haven't. Both helped me understand myself a little better when I was a teenager and then, unexpectedly, taught me something about death and dying as an adult.
We feel the losses of television icons in a different way than we do our movie stars, politicians, and newsmakers. Our television hosts tend to be our neighbors, like the late Mister Rogers would sing.
The role of critics has been marginalized by the growth of the Internet and the empowerment of self-made bloggers who are eager to share their opinions. But few, if any, of these wannabes will ever surpass Roger Ebert.
Ebert was my first connection to cinema. My whole life I was obsessed with movies. As an only child I heard adults talk about films and used that as an entry into their conversations. But at a certain point movies just became my own obsession.
When you get cancer you're forced into a club you never wanted to be a member of. I've gotten the diagnosis, I've had the surgery, and I've thought about death. It's how Roger Ebert lived his final days that offers a glimpse into what it means to live and die.