BLAKE, JANET, LOSS, SADNESS, LESSONS…
Some Friday Morning Stream-of-Consciousness.
I was still rather messed up in the head by the shocking news of Tuesday that the wildly talented and supremely good-natured New York Times journalist Blake Hounshell had taken his own life the day before, when an alert popped up on my phone that a friend had messaged me on LinkedIn.
I didn’t know Blake well, but we interacted quite a bit when he was the go-to guy at Politico for opinion pieces. He was unusually polite and helpful for a busy opinion editor at a major outlet, and that always stuck with me. I was excited for him when he was scooped up by the New York Times not all that long ago, and I told him so. From where I stood, it seemed Blake was living the dream. Apparently, that was not the case and it is just gutting, isn’t it? Just. Gutting. I wish I had had the opportunity to know him better and I feel deeply for his family, friends and colleagues. By all accounts, one of the good guys.
Anyway, the LinkedIn message. This was yesterday. Thursday. It was a very thoughtful in-case-you-missed-it note from a dear friend I’ve known forever containing a link to an obituary for — oh shit — Janet Fallon. Janet I did know well and this one hit me right in the face. We hadn’t been in close touch for quite a bit, but we saw each other on occasion and it was as if we hadn’t missed a beat whenever we did. We were pals. Work pals, life pals…pals. Janet had a lot of pals. I knew she had been having health struggles for quite some time but I did not know that they were of the variety that would take her away far too soon. I wish I had better understood the severity of what she was up against.
Janet was…ebullient! That look in the above photo was pretty much her resting face. Extraordinarily gifted…kind, clever and quick. We did major events together back in the day — like with heads of state and so forth. Stuff that just featured one big ass stressor after another for weeks on end. Event people, especially whilst in the midst of executing super high-stakes events, are by an overwhelming margin an utterly insufferable bunch. Self included. But not Janet. She was a machine. And she made me laugh, probably partly because she was constantly laughing (loudly) about one thing or another.
I never heard a negative word spoken about Janet Fallon, which is weird because DC people talk shit about each other like it’s a sport. And everyone’s an Olympian, you know?
I don’t really know what else to write here except to lament out loud all of this loss of the last few years. One after another it seems we are losing many of the sweetest and most gifted souls among us. I often find myself wondering why The Universe can’t take a pause and pluck an asshole every now and then.
Kidding, kidding…sort of.
So what to carry forward? There are lessons of course. With Blake, I wish I had made the effort to better know him. With Janet, I wish I had paid more attention to someone who deserved more of my attention. The sadness of the week serves for me as a reminder about slowing down, paying attention to what’s going on with people, giving more of myself. You know what I’m getting at. The lessons we say we pledge to heed following situations like this but generally don’t. I don’t know if they will stick or not this time around with me but I sure owe it to Blake and Janet to try.
Regardless, I’ll never forget either of them. May they both rest in the peace that they so deserve.