I have a passion. I like to devote my time to it. I would not die for it, but then again, I am eighteen, and I’m not a denizen of super-stardom.
It’s been a little while since a Missouri-schoolgirl-turned-illustrious-businesswoman was found dead by a housekeeper in her Manhattan apartment. This is Kate Spade. It’s been an equally little while since (possibly) the universe’s favorite celebrity chef and travel documentarian was found hanging in his Kaysersberg hotel room. This is Anthony Bourdain.
Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain had passions of their own, like a lot of us. At their humble starts, they existed as two individuals only trying to further something they thought might go far enough. In June of this year, their explosive finishes were tied with a common thread: a string hung from a high place.
Mixed emotions are obvious in expectancy; some think the topic of two celebrity suicides should be left alone, and others think it should be heavily analyzed, sometimes to the point of exploitation. Either way, it’s fairly accurate to say both unfortunate ends stemmed from the stress and pressures from things that a growing career brings, like maintaining an image (brand/reputation/facade) or literally just doing what you’re famous for doing at an increasingly-maximized level. Behind polka-dotted handbags and culinary exploration, no one but Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain knew what it was like to be Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain.
I’ve been fortunate to grow up with a mom that was for the most part positive; or, at least, that’s how I saw her for the better part of my childhood. At its surface, she leads a very successful life: she married well, has a beautiful home, birthed two (cool) kids, boasts a rewarding job, and is in good health. She is personable, inclusive, gregarious, a chef, a generous host, and a wearer of fun colors. We have Christmas parties and are on a first-name basis with many employees at the local grocery store.
As I’ve gotten older, my mom has told me things about herself that she says test her ability to be positive everyday. People she’s leaned on like I lean on her have been alive one moment and dead within the matter of a phone call. She’s dealt with life-threatening health issues that my family has had to bear and get past. Her first love didn’t really work out, but then she found my dad. There’s more, but I’ll cap it here.
Since she’s revealed these things to me, she’s let go a bit of the facade she used to put up around my brother and I when we were younger. I used to know her as a stay-at-home-mom in a little yellow sweater. More now, I see her compressed in a ball of stress at the computer as the night rolls on, or as a woman that didn’t feel like washing her hair so threw it up in a tight ponytail, or as a sleepy teacher in a muted green dress. These things are not bad; they are good. They show me that she isn’t afraid to let out bits and pieces of her ever-changing self to me and others; this is healthy, and it makes me love her more. She is now more structured ponytails, soft t-shirts, and muted colors. She is now more authentic, and I truly believe that she is a happier person because of it.
I take this and the incidents surrounding Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain into hefty consideration as I finish my first week of college and, therefore, my first full week away from home without my parents or any sort of familiarity. It is not an option to hold in things only because you wish to maintain who you think you desire to be. By this I mean that I cannot allow people to think I am a social butterfly ready to wave my parents out of my life; everyone I want to form a bond with has to know that I call both my mom and my dad two to three times a day and do not plan to call any less, no matter how busy I get. They have to accept that. I walk the campus with this mindset so that maybe I’ll meet someone who has the same connection to home that I do, and then we can resist withholding it from others together.
Something tells me that neither celebrity did this, and Kate Spade left her body unaware that Anthony Bourdain felt similarly. Though she hasn’t disclosed this to me directly, something tells me that my mom also didn’t own this mindset for a while. But she found my dad, and she found me, and she found her friends Mandy and Janet and Debbie and Sandi, and she thought of her sister and cousin and mother-in-law and father, and she’s okay now. She is not her best, but she is also the best she’s been in a while.
I realize that I don’t have any inside information on either celebrity deaths and that perhaps you wish I did. But I’m hopeful that this small and rather surface-level story of my mom can be accepted with some sort of tranquility. In the end, I am merely saying that success is not necessarily indicative of happiness. It is imperative to be aware of that. Sometimes being aware doesn’t do much help, and finding peace in that is already the next step.