We all, I have found, have deaths of people with which we deeply identify although they are neither family nor friend.
In the 60s, a decade notable for major shootings, it was Jack Kennedy for me. I sat on the curbstone in Harvard Square and could not stop crying. I was not alone in both acts.
When John Lennon was shot in 1980, a senior associate working with me was almost functionally destroyed. When I questioned his reaction, as Lennon was after all “just a singer, although a very successful one,” I increased his hurt by not recognizing the meaning of Lennon in this associate’s life and indeed, he stated, for his entire generation.
My 16 year old son doesn’t read newspapers but the last two mornings I have found him buried in the interior pages of the Boston Globe. It is all about David Ortiz. My son played Little League avidly (with great enthusiasm if not great skill), helped me haunt Fenway (a member of whatever the junior club was called at the time, he knew the game and team so well that they had him introduced from the mound once and on a couple of occasions was on camera live on the field reading the line-ups), and actually met Big Papi at a Little League field in Newton (Ortiz’ nephew was on a team playing on an adjacent field and the guy was totally charming and signed everything that could actually take a line of ink).
Turns out that Ortiz is his Kennedy, his Lennon. He is obsessed about Papi’s health, the perps, the hospitals, the nightclub in the DR. He listed all the famous people who reportedly expressed sorrow over the shooting. “Even Rudy Giuliani. At least he got ONE thing right,” my son intoned, although I am not even sure how he came to possess a critical view on the Mayor of America; much of the world gets its news these days from sources that do not get thrown onto your front porch.