One of the biggest challenges of this unsettling time is the isolation we feel as we’re separated from friends and family, all the people for whom we care most deeply. But just being alone is only part of the difficulty. Our sense of remoteness is intensified by a pall of unease we can’t define: Loss and sorrow are also in the air. We fear losing—or we may have already lost—people we love. And when we work up the courage to look beyond our individual personal spheres, we see that many people who have made our world better, in big and small ways, have vanished before we were ready to let them go.
But not even sorrow is one-dimensional. There can always be at least a glimmer of joy in remembering things that people gave us while they were here. In his jubilant and revivifying memoir, I Remember, the artist and writer Joe Brainard tabulated all the little things that can come to shape how we think about life. It’s a book of large truths disguised as small ones: “I remember,” he writes, “those times of not knowing if you feel really happy or really sad. (Wet eyes and a high heart.)”
We have no roadmap for this new territory. But we all, at one time or another, have reason to mourn. Maybe we can be better at celebrating life even as we’re saddened by its loss. That’s the goal of this list: to acknowledge the remarkable and joyful lives of some of those we have lost. It’s not comprehensive, nor is it meant to be. These are just some of the people who have been taken from us, even as they have left us much to remember them by. Let’s think of them with wet eyes and a high heart. —Stephanie Zacharek
from Time Magazine