I’ve always struggled with the concept of death. I mean, when I’m sick, or feel a random pain, I’ll make myself dizzy with anxiety over “this is it, this is the end, this is how I die, I don’t want to die, I’m not ready to die, I’m too young to die.” And occasionally I’ll think about the timer my body’s running that ticks away to my natural death. But when I think of actually dying, it just seems like it won’t happen, or it will just be a thing that happens. No real loss, nothing to be upset about. I’m dead. Boom.
It’s that way with other people, too. When my poppop and great grandmom died, I don’t remember crying. I was sad that I couldn’t see them anymore, but I wasn’t sad that they were dead. I cried when my sibling shattered her spleen because I knew she was in pain and she was losing so much blood she couldn’t stay conscious. I cried because I was scared of the situation. I don’t remember crying over the death of any of our (few) pets as a kid. I am 100% more likely to cry over the death of a fictional character than I am to be upset over the death of something that was real and alive.
Maybe that’s because I have a million reincarnation theories. My most visited one is that there is only one soul that has ever existed, and every time it’s body dies, it reincarnates into another body at any point in time, human or not. It has a similar personality to its past life, but not identical. And then, when that body dies, it reincarnates into someone or something with a similar but not identical personality as that life. So, according to that theory, you (the reader) and I have the same soul, but we’re at least one death away from being each other. Following this theory, that means fictional characters die forever once they die, because they have no soul.
I didn’t cry when Robin Williams died. I wasn’t even upset that he was gone. To me, he would live on in his works. And I don’t mean that in a “this is how I’ll cope with him being gone,” I mean that in my mind, his death doesn’t matter in the mortal sense. And this is how I view all celebrity deaths.
The first person I ever can remember being actually upset over their death was a man that I knew hardly anything about. Monty Oum.
For those who don’t know, Monty was a part of the Rooster Teeth team. He died due to a severe allergic reaction to medication. It was very sudden; Rooster Teeth announced that Monty had been hospitalized for undisclosed reasons one day, and two days later, we got the word that he’d died.
I’d been trying to get out of the RT community for months. I don’t like the way the guys conduct themselves, the slurs and things they throw around. They’ve said in the past they’re never going to change for their fans, so rather than fight people over the whole “your fave is problematic” crap, I decided to just… quietly slip away from the community. I stopped watching them. Stopped following them on twitter. I found new Let’s Players to watch, new people to occupy my time.
I got the news of Monty’s hospitalization came to me through a friend on Facebook; they shared the link that Rooster Teeth had put out, asking for help to donate towards Monty’s hospital bills when he was inevitably released. I kind of shrugged it off; I knew Monty only through the first season of RWBY that I’d watched in the past. And I mean, being in the hospital is not the end of the world. I’ve been in and out of the hospital, as have my dad, my sister, and many of my friends.
Except he wasn’t released. He died. He died, and upon hearing the news through Markiplier, I cried. And then I got upset at myself for crying over this person I knew next to nothing about when I couldn’t even cry over my own grandfather dying. The more I read about Monty, the more blog entries I read written by the RT team about how he lived, the more I cried. I talked to my friend Ally, who is deeply rooted in the RT community. “At least you’re reacting,” she told me. “No one else really is.” She and I talked over Skype and cried. She watched the RT podcast that night, but I couldn’t; I had to go to dinner with my boyfriend and his sister, and I had to hold it together.
On the way to dinner, I texted my friend Rick about the whole thing. He was a lot more chill about the situation than I was, and at first, all I could think of were Ally’s words of “No one else is really reacting.” But nonetheless, we talked the entire way to the restaurant, and though I wasn’t any less sad about it all, I somehow felt at least a little better.
The more I read about Monty, and how he lived, what he did, how he interacted with others, the more I feel he was cheated. He deserved more time, more life, more chances to make his dreams a reality. He was only 33 when he passed, and yet he literally never wasted a single second of his life. He was always doing something, always working toward a goal, always dreaming bigger. And always encouraging others to do the same.
As sad as I am, and as baffled as I am that I’m sad, I’m pretty sure Monty would want me (and the RT community) to keep moving forward. Onward and upward. On to the next project, the next dream.