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Gone too soon

January 26, 2008 - Erin O'Neill
As the news spread of the untimely and tragic death of up-and-coming actor, Heath Ledger, I found myself having a difficult time coming to terms with the loss.

No, I was not a rabid fan. I was a casual fan but really beginning to appreciate his work. Yes, he was a handsome young man with a lovely Australian accent and had a kind of dark, brooding mystique that made him appealing.

But more attractive still was that he was a dad. Not just a technical "father," but by all accounts seemed to be a hands-on dad who doted on his 2-year-old, Matilda Rose, with actress Michelle Williams.

That is what saddens me. I have no idea what it means to be a millionaire, worshiped by adoring fans, living a fairy tale life. In that respect, we had nothing in common.

But I'm a parent of a 2-year-old and parents form a sort of "secret society." We are all alike in the respect that we change the poopy diapers, kiss the boo-boos, try to maintain a sense of who we are while still working to raise a happy and healthy child.

I used to be a "non-parent" and had no idea of the joy that I was missing - the depth of the love a parent can have for their child and vice versa.

My heart breaks for that poor little girl, a spitting image of her daddy, who will spend the rest of her life trying to understand why her father had to leave her so soon. However, in this day and age of automatic news, I doubt we will have to wait 20 years for the tell-all book. The poor child will be the subject of prying paparazzi, endless speculation, and a constant memory for her mother that she is now alone to raise their child.

It's a tragedy. A real shame and I hope we all take this opportunity to hug our children tight and tell them we love them. You never know what tomorrow may bring.


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Heath Ledger, who died at age 28, is seen here with his young daughter, Matilda.


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