Loss Makes Heroes of Us All
Friday 15th January 2016
My earliest David Bowie memory is Christmas Eve in the early 1990’s. I was an excited, small, 8-year-old boy without a care in the world other than the deep consideration of what Father Christmas would be leaving for me the following morning. When Raymond Briggs' ‘The Snowman’ began to play in the gigantic VCR player, the crackles and flickers from the TV gave me goosebumps, which to this day I can still recall.
As the strange, pale, blond haired man introduced the beautifully made animation – it gave the experience a greater feel of importance, realism and mystery. The sense of loss that The Snowman evokes had a huge impact on me as a child; it is an emotional, heartfelt tale that we would relive each festive period. That feeling of loss and mortality is something as an adult I can relate to with an even greater sense of perspective.
Over the following years I would continue to watch ‘The Snowman’ each Christmas with my sisters, along with many others across the world. It holds a special place in our hearts and will always fill me with nostalgic Christmas childhood memories. In later years his appearance in ‘Extras’ would be an event that would cause me to literally fall on the floor laughing in my shared student house at University. I would only go on to purchase one David Bowie Album, ‘Low’ – and that was in my mid-twenties after hearing ‘Sound and Vision’ for the first time. It was the first track I played after hearing the news of his death.
I now work for Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation as a digital content producer and during the last few months in the job I have learned an unbelievable amount about how cancer invades and changes peoples lives. A friend’s 18-year-old daughter was tragically lost before Christmas last year to cancer and I have worked with an 80-year-old lung cancer survivor (who also lost her husband to lung cancer), who has raised funds for us by swimming a mile in a month. For every person touched by cancer there is a unique and compelling story that comes with it.
On Monday I came into work and upon seeing the news my colleagues and I reflected on our individual memories of David Bowie, as did countless other people up and down the country. There has been no indication of which cancer David Bowie was suffering from, and in many ways I can understand why that would be the case. Cancer is indiscriminate. Yes, there are ways we can live our lives to swing the pendulum of favour our way – but ultimately, no one deserves to die from cancer. When somebody of David Bowie’s ethereal stature and cultural importance is lost to such an unglamorous and affecting disease, it does not change the man himself or how we saw him, but it certainly brings things back down to earth.
Cancer has or will affect us all at some stage in our lives. Whether you are an international superstar revered by millions across the world or in an office typing away on a laptop like myself – we can all relate to that deep sense of sorrow and sadness when a loved one is lost.
By Alex Harrison - Digital Content Producer at RCLCF