2016 is over. Finally. While most of us usually approach December with “I can’t believe how quickly the year has gone by already”, it seemed as the year was drawing to a close, everyone was happy to just get through the year and hope for a better start in 2017.
Twelve months ago, the world mourned collectively for the loss of music icon, David Bowie. Whether you were a Bowie fan or not, you knew the words to at least one of his songs. His final album was released only a week before his death, so the news of his passing came as a huge shock to everyone except for his family.
A mere four days later, we bade farewell to Alan Rickman – the thespian with the voice that could at once seduce, threaten and command you. Kids grew up knowing Rickman as Professor Snape in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series while their parents loved him as terrorist-thief Hans Gruber in Die Hard or the cheating husband in that “other” popular Christmas movie, Love Actually.
While we were all preparing ourselves for a festive holiday season, Carrie Fisher – Princess Leia from a Galaxy far, far away – suffered a massive heart attack on a flight home, from which she did not recover. She passed away a few days later, and her grief-stricken mother, the legendary icon of the Golden Years of Hollywood, Debbie Reynolds, had a stroke and passed away as well.
In between all this drama, on Boxing Day (Australian time), as I sat on a bus on my way to the beach to meet friends in Sydney, I saw breaking news reports that George Michael, my first real and everlasting musical crush, had died in his home on Christmas Day in London. I was in the target demographic when George burst onto the world music scene with Andrew Ridgeley as Wham. Whilst I managed to avoid the popular “Choose Life” shirts and fluorescent leggings and headbands they and their dancers made famous at the time, his music will stay with me forever.
On an even more personal level, December marked the loss of a friend whose death means his daughters are now orphans. And my mother lost a best friend, someone who I have known for almost my entire life and consider to be an aunt. 2016 has not been kind but it is the circle of life. We are born. We die. It is what we do with those intervening years that determines the kind of legacy we leave behind and this point has been made more profound to me now than ever before.
The world continues to turn and we all look forward to new beginnings – even greater challenges lie ahead that we have to face without these and many other artists who have inspired us throughout our lives. In a few weeks, America will have a new President – a man who has caused more controversy and division in not just his own country, but around the world, than I have known in my lifetime. What will it all mean? We will all have to wait and see. And never give up hope. Because as long as we have breath, we have the ability to make a change.