I remember the first time I heard David Bowie. I was ten, a gangly weird little girl covered in scrapes and bruises. I was the weird kid in school, the one who caught hell from every other kid, and I never thought I'd be able to fit in anywhere.
First I heard songs from the era of Ziggy Stardust. It was so outrageous, so out there compared to what my parents listened to, and I thought it was amazing. It became the soundtrack to my life, and as I grew older I collected all of Bowie's CDs and listened almost religiously. If I felt sad, if I was sore from being in another fight, if I was crying over my dad leaving us, I turned in my stereo and I felt better.
For a weird, lonely kid and later a depressed teenager, Bowie made me think that it was okay to be a weird gangly kid. If David Bowie could make it cool to be a tall, skinny, pale, bonk eyed guy from England, then I could make being a short, skinny kid with weird colored eyes from Minnesota be cool.
As I get older, become able to live on my own and be an adult (or a rough approximation of one) my love for his music and his movies never fades. They remain my favorite part of music and film; spectacular and often thought provoking while still entertaining. Nothing makes me happy quite like Mr. Bowie can with his baritone voice and sometimes nonsensical lyrics, his fabulous performances in film. If there is one thing I will regret in my life, it will be the inability to meet such an amazing man and thank him for unknowingly showing me and millions of others that you shouldn't try to be someone else. Just make being you cooler than being anyone else in the world.
I can't imagine the pain of losing such a man, and I know my sadness over his death is nothing compared to that of his family and friends. But he fought to the end and made us all so proud. The Thin White Duke was a man that will never be replaced, and I wouldn't want anyone to try because it could never live up to his memory. He'll keep influencing all of us even though he's no longer here, and I thank him for that. And to his family, thank you for sharing so amazing a man with the rest of the world.
-Mary, age 19