Alan Rickman, beloved actor (among so many things), has passed away. The news is fresh, raw, painful, especially on the heels of the death of David Bowie.
Both to cancer.
I haven’t been here in a while. I keep meaning to come back to it but I haven’t made it a priority. And yet, when I read the news of Rickman’s passing, I felt this insatiable need to write my way through it. Not because anyone is particularly interested in what I have to say about him and certainly not because I think I have anything new to add to the conversation, but for the simple reason that writing helps me process the world as it happens to and around me.
As I sat down to type this, I hopped onto Facebook. (Why? Don’t ever ask that question. I ask it every single time. I never have a good answer for myself). Already – ALREADY – there was a critical post.
The poster said something to the effect that people needed to stop posting memes and photos of Professor Snape because Alan Rickman was so much more than just Professor Snape.
Fair. True, even.
Everyone has their favorite Rickman. The man was precision and professionalism incarnate. He was exact, expert, endlessly talented – whatever role he assumed. But let’s set something straight – Professor Snape isn’t just anything. He’s everything.
For so many people, especially people of my generation, the role of Professor Snape will always be his most iconic – and for good reason. Alan Rickman’s Professor Snape was the person that perhaps first taught us that things are not always what they seem, that people are not always who they seem. He taught us that people can change, both for better and worse and then sometimes back again. Snape wasn’t perfect. He held grudges, which we resented. He wasn’t pleasant, which we resented. He was relentless, which we resented.
And yet – AND YET – he also taught us that life is hard, that grief lasts a lifetime, and that, most importantly, we will do anything for love. We will do anything for love and that is one of the most important elements of the human experience. All of that texture exists in Rowling’s books, certainly, but Rickman is the face of all of that flawed humanity.
I’ve watched and loved Rickman in so many roles. He was a master of the craft. But when I think of him, when I think of the role that had the most impact on my life and heart of any of his characters, Professor Snape comes to the front of my mind. I can live with this. Professor Snape, Alan Rickman as Professor Snape, honest-to-God made me look at my world differently. I can’t express enough gratitude for that.
In some ways, I feel as lost as I did when we lost Robin Williams. It feels as if another bright light has gone out. More than once this week, a star has gone dim. We have to live with that. We have to move forward and keep on. Rickman said, “I think there should be laughs in everything. Sometimes, it’s a slammed door, a pie in the face or just a recognition of our frailties.” That frailty, that flaw, all of that Snapeness, resonates. I hope we do laugh, because I have it on good authority that Mr. Rickman dearly loved to laugh and wasn’t half as serious as we liked to imagine him being.
May he have peace.
We’ll miss him. Always.