I haven't been able to get the death of Elizabeth Taylor out of my mind, reading all sorts of tributes and stories and rumors about her life, her death, her funeral, and her will.
One of the best stories, and I'm so hoping it's true, is that Elizabeth Taylor was actually 15 minutes late to her own funeral! Apparently, it was a habit for Taylor to always be 15 minutes late to everything, and she had it stipulated in her will that she arrive at her own funeral a quarter hour after it had started. A sense of humor even after she had left us.
But she was much more than that.
A lot of people talk about Princess Diana being the most famous woman ever, but now I think they might be wrong. I mean, Taylor was international news from the 1940s through to 2011, and, no doubt, way beyond that.
She was the most photographed woman, one of the most talked about, joked about, feted, honored, trivialized, sensationalized, and idolized. There was no one before her, and I cannot think of anyone like her.
One thing I found shocking was that she was survived by four children, ten grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. I knew she had children, though I didn't know it was four, and I never even thought about Elizabeth Taylor, Grandmother....Great Grandmother.
How is it that this women, this idol and icon, who was famous for almost seventy years, photographed over and over again, kept her private life private--at least as far as her children were concerned? We knew about the marriages, the lovers, the illnesses, the ups and the downs of a decades long career, but her family was private.
That says something about her. And it says something about us that we let her keep her family to herself.
And then there were her friends, many of them gay, and most of those closeted. She kept their secrets all of their lives and all of hers. She had been told a story by James Dean about how he was molested as a child, and he asked her to keep it a secret, and she did, long after he died, and until she, to, had passed.
One of her greatest friends was Rock Hudson. And when he died of complications of AIDS--one of the first, and most well-known, in a list that is far too long--she didn't stay silent. She spoke out against the disease and what it had done to her friend.
And now she's gone.
I picture her, arriving in Heaven--or wherever she might be--being embraced by Rock Hudson, and all of those we've lost to the AIDS crisis, those men, women and children that she spoke about, and fought for, and loved. If there ever was to be a heroes welcome in Heaven, this woman deserves it.
Up there, and down here, too.