I woke up this morning and turned my phone on. I got into Instagram and the first thing I saw was a photo of Chadwick Boseman, the Black Panther actor. Beneath it was a caption that said something along the lines of “Rest in Peace. You will be missed.”
Naturally, I went through all 5 stages of grief in the span of 3 seconds. I mean, if this was an older actor I would’ve shrugged it off. I’m not someone to lose sleep over the death of a celebrity that I don’t personally know. I’m just being real here.
But this guy, Boseman, was in the prime of his career and achieved popularity by being part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe that had dominated movie theaters in the 2010s.
I’ll never forget the smash hit that was Black Panther back in 2018. The set pieces, costumes, villain backstory, hero/villain dynamic were all incredible and well thought-out. Mind you, I was one of the doubters saying it didn’t deserve Best Picture consideration at the Oscars, but that’s just me. It was still a fun movie to watch. (That “Wakanda Forever!” battle cry was delightfully corny, come on. 😀 )
The first time I saw Chadwick on-screen was in 42: The Jackie Robinson Story. I’m pretty big on baseball. I’ll say it was a decent movie, but haven’t seen it in quite some time. It was-
Look, I don’t want to feign adulation for Boseman. He was a fine actor, but he wasn’t my favorite. He wasn’t my personal hero, either. I’m sure he was a man with a good heart and loved his family.
The reason I’m writing this blog today is the circumstances surrounding Boseman’s death. He died of colon cancer, and here’s the thing: He fought for 4 years and no one except his family knew about it.
He never went out publicly to announce his diagnosis. He never went on Twitter and tweeted out a 140-character message about getting chemotherapy.
He never went on Instagram and posted a picture of his weary, cancer-stricken face with an inspirational quote in the description.
(EDIT: My mistake. He did show his gaunt face on Instagram. But the topic was Jackie Robinson Day, and the video was deleted when questions regarding his health started going out.)
No, he kept his mouth shut and pursued his passion.
He kept his mouth shut and completed the projects that were assigned to him. He filmed Black Panther, Civil War, Infinity War, and Endgame while his colon was rotting from the inside. He practiced his stunts and martial arts while experiencing the intense side-effects of his cancer treatments.
Through it all, he kept his mouth shut. And he kept his business to himself.
That, my friends, is worthy of admiration. A part of him probably knew that his time on Earth was almost up. And damn, did he make the best of it.
Let’s take a moment to self-reflect. What lesson can we learn from Mr. Boseman? One thing I dislike about this situation, and humanity in general, is that we need moments like this to truly acknowledge the fragility of human life and the terrifying prospect of unrealized dreams.
I have an entire novel series (Heather Zlamanowski) planned out. I’m only on Book Two at the moment. The mere thought of the series being incomplete at the time of my death horrifies me. Time is the most valuable asset we have. Life is both finite and fragile. Death is both unfair and unpredictable.
Chadwick Boseman knew this. He didn’t ask for sympathy for his private health battles. He didn’t make excuses for not realizing his God-given potential. No, he kept his mouth shut, he got to work, and he went home.
And now he’s Home. Forever.
Rest in Power, Mr. Chadwick.
“Purpose is the essential element of you. It is the reason you are on the planet at this particular time in history. Your very existence is wrapped up in the things you are here to fulfill. “Chadwick Boseman