They say death always happens in 3’s. The anecdote proved true this week. And what a sad week it has been. At the beginning of the week, I received word that my favorite morning DJ, Kidd Kraddick had died suddenly at one of his charity events in New Orleans. Now, mind you, I am not one of these people that gets all worked up at celebrity deaths. Yes, it saddens me, but not in the way that it affects me when someone I know personally died. And yet, I never met Kidd Kraddick. But I’ve listened to his show faithfully for the last 13 years. I’ve spent countless hours in the car smiling and laughing at the jokes, bits and personal life stories that he and his crew share daily. I really feel like I know these people personally, and my heart aches for both his morning show friends and his family, as well as the countless listeners across the country who now have a hole in their mornings and in their hearts. Kidd found something to brighten the mornings of so many people, and worked tirelessly doing so. He was also an amazing humanitarian, raising millions of dollars to send disabled or ill children on a dream trip to Disney World each year through his Kidd’s Kidds foundation. We have truly lost on of the good ones.
Yesterday morning, I received the news that my former boss and mentor, Greg Peters passed away after an emergency heart surgery the night before. I literally cannot get him out of my mind. I only worked with Greg for about a year, but that year made a lasting impression on me that was to shape both my career path as well as my personality indelibly. I was fresh out of college and extremely wet behind the ears. To say I was naïve about both the business world and the world in general would be an understatement. Greg needed an “understudy” at GambitWeekly Baton Rouge (his assistant at the time had just accepted another offer). This designer would need to put together ads and minor page layouts while he worked on the cool things like the cover story and his political cartoons. I did not realize at the time I was working in the presence of greatness. Nor did I realize the lasting influence his mentorship would provide me in my field of graphic design. More importantly, he injected a healthy dose of cynicism and critical thinking skills into this little country “hick” as he often referred to me.
While Greg was infamous for his fury and hostility in his work and even many of his personal relationships, he was always extremely patient with me; dare I say, sweet. It was as though he handled me with care, not wanting to jade me so early in my journey; when I still believed there was a general good in most people, while he insisted at times that there wasn’t. And yet he was just that….an inherently good person always fighting for the little guy, the disadvantaged, the underdog. The man had an uncanny ability to get to portray the root of political skirmishes and local news in a way that made you laugh, made you angry, made you think….the way only a master of his medium could. Through Greg, I have at LEAST 50 or so friends, both on facebook and real life that I would have NEVER crossed paths with had it not been for the mutual connection and admiration of this man. And I might add, they are some of the kindest, smartest, funniest and most talented people I know. My life is richer because of the fact that he surrounded his life with artists, writers and creative people. I spent my whole morning reading through every facebook message he and I have shared through the years. Through different jobs, shitty bosses, divorce, health issues and also triumph, he never stopped being my mentor and my friend.
I once asked him in an email that I still have…”Why did you pick me for the job?” His exact words were this: “You didn’t have lots of experience – actually I don’t think you had any – but you had a real spark and something told me that if we just gave you the details and let you do it, you’d do something special – your ads, at their best, didn’t look like any other ads in town, and that’s what I wanted. So I’m really glad you’ve done so well. That skinny girl with the hick-ass accent and the toe ring went on to teach design at LSU!”
Thank you Greg…I owe you so much.
Still reeling from the loss of my friend Greg, I received word today that a sweet friend of mine, one with 2 small boys, has lost her husband very suddenly and unexpected tonight. (I am withholding names until family and friends are notified). This family is amazingly close and genuinely committed to God and their church. I can’t imagine her heartbreak. And my own heart aches for those sweet little boys. I hope they rely on the strength of their family, friends and faith to get through this time.
I spent the evening with my family and really tried to feel every moment with them. This week has left me shaken, and I feel unsteady….as though the rug of perceived safety can be ripped from us at any time. And that being the case, I sincerely hope that my family and friends do indeed know how much I really, really love them. I don’t know when my time will come, but if my life is lived half as well as any of these people, it will be a life well lived…and loved.