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Friday, June 26, 2009

Goodbye, Farrah

Today's papers and websites and TV are full of Michael Jackson's death. After the Jackson 5, I didn't care for him, didn't follow his music, though it was inescapable in the 80s. Apart from our realizing we were in love when my late husband and I danced to "I'll Be There" in the Tunnel, Jackson didn't touch my life at all.

But Farrah did. She was my attention rival in the bedroom of my first Big Love. My brothers were all "Charlie's Angels" fans; indeed, every guy I knew was glued to the tube for that show. Her hairstyle was ubiquitous, her face was everywhere. She was married to the "6 Million Dollar Man", who turned out to have abused her. Yet, she carried herself with dignity. She met and had a son by Ryan O'Neal, and her life seemed together, happy and strong. She was a woman who made it, in spite of her amazing good looks. I don't say that offhand, either. I've had very good looking friends and lovers all my life, and the experience of the unusually good-looking is not so different than that of an unusually unattractive person. People use you as a canvas for their feelings and psychoses instead of treating you as a respected human either way.

I never wrote her off as a bimbo, especially after "Extremities" and "The Burning Bed". She wasn't celebrated as an actor's actor, never won an Oscar, but she had passion. She had a big heart, a deep religious belief. And she had fight. There was much more to Farrah than met the eye.

NBC broadcasted a portrait special that she and Alana Stewart and Ryan O'Neal made of her as she faced and fought the cancer. Through the weeks/months of the shooting, she became more and more sick, taking a multitude of drugs and supplements in a heroic struggle to get well. I don't say heroic lightly, ever. I've watched up close as friends and family fought to live; her struggle was just as grueling, horrid and as astonishing and inspiring as any I've seen. Her will to keep battling was remarkable. But, as time and the cancer rolled on, she became bodily weak. I don't think I can ever forget the scene of her son Red, visiting her in a court-allowed furlough from drug rehab/jail, in leg chains, crawling into bed beside her. She didn't seem very responsive, in fact I was embarassed to watch. It seemed over the top in being invasive. But Farrah wanted the world to see what it was like, from the brief moments of hope to shaving off her hair. They say she shaved it off as a note of choice and control, a symbolic way to not just surrender the crown of glory she'd worn all her life.

On Thursday Farrah died with Ryan O'Neal and Alana Stewart, her best friend, beside her. Not only do I admire Farrah for her guts and passion, I think much more of Ryan O'Neal for being steadfastly with her through everything. In my life I've seen that devotion only twice from a husband; my stepfather with my mother and my brother Billy with his wife. Farrah publically suffered and died with more grace and dignity than most people. She was loved, and loved in return. She smiled in the face of a death sentence and never stopped fighting.

My prayers tonight will include those who are mourning her loss. That Michael Jackson's death has eclipsed hers is shameful. RIP, Farrah, you've earned your rest.

P.S. I came across this article today and thought it's too good to pass up:

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