Where Were You…

I’m a child of 80s pop culture. Those were my defining years. And I’m a story teller and filmmaker, so the films from that era shaped me.

FerrisAnd the iconic films of the 80s were mostly made by one man, John Hughes. He died suddenly today, and in the outpouring of news articles and facebook updates I find myself once again reflecting on how much I hate our response to those who have died.

Here’s a man who shaped a decade of comedy filmmaking. And he shaped a generation of filmgoers. Yet in recent years his work has been discounted as out of date, while gross-out work like Judd Apatow and Will Ferrell has been heralded as the way comedy should be done.

But now John Hughes dies and people come out of the woodwork discussing how great his films were. How iconic. How timeless. How many of those films are still on the top ten lists of folks from my generation. Twitter updates on John Hughes were happening by the hundreds per minute.  Most of my facebook friends included the obituary as their status.   I agree with the sentiment, but I wonder one key thing.

Did he know?

When John Hughes got up this morning, did he feel like someone who people loved? Did he know he made an impact on so many lives? Or did he feel like a has-been. Or never-was.

We do a terrible job of making people feel loved while they are alive. I don’t mean celebrities. I mean our friends. Our families. The people who taught us, or challenged us, or pushed us to be better than we were before.

So much of our lives get filled with people telling us no. Cutting us off. Yelling. Belittling. Pushing us out of the way so they can be next.

Then… in a moment, we lose someone. And suddenly we stop and stand up to say how great they were. How much we loved them. All our favorite things we felt but never shared about their impact on our lives.

This is why I hate funerals. And I’ve skipped some which seemed like obvious events to attend. Because I can’t bring myself to talk about how great someone was when they can’t hear it. If I couldn’t say it when they were alive, what’s the point.

Eulogies should be banned. Unless the deceased knew how much you loved them, don’t tell us now. People need to hear how much they matter while they’re still on earth… and mattering. It makes no difference what you believe of the after-life.

Look at those words: After. Life.

I say, more tributes and eulogies DURING life.

I hope the people who knew and worked with John Hughes told him how gifted he was. I hope his family and loved ones said he mattered.  I’d like to believe he knew.

I will endeavor to tell those in my life. And I challenge you to do the same.


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