It was a dark cloud over Super Bowl Sunday. News that rocked Hollywood and Broadway. And countless everyday folks who won't forget the compelling characters he created on the screen.
Academy Award-winning actor, Philip Seymour Hoffman, found dead in his apartment of an alleged drug overdose. He was only 46.
Social media were filled with the grieving reactions of so many stars. Words like "devastated" and "heartbroken" showed up over and over.
Hoffman was, after all, considered one of the most gifted, most admired actors in show business.
The sadness was compounded by the many reminders that he was so talented. So young. And the circumstances of his death so wrenchingly tragic.
They'll do an autopsy to find the exact cause of death. But there is no autopsy for a human soul to find out what went wrong. Yes, Philip Seymour Hoffman had admitted his addictions. Those closest to him thought he had beaten those problems in rehab. On Sunday, drugs allegedly killed him.
Comedian and actor, Jim Carrey - who is no stranger to success - went beyond simple condolences in his response to Seymour's death. He said,
"Dear Philip, a beautiful, beautiful soul. For the most sensitive among us the noise can be too much."
I guess you don't have to be a star to know what he's talking about. So many people live in quiet desperation, closer to the edge than anyone knows.
Actor Val Kilmer suggested in his reaction that
"addiction comes from trying to escape the pain of living. We all struggle with this."
The escapes are many - drugs or alcohol for some, an affair for others, pornography for still others. Or even running into a relentless schedule or a consuming workload.
But the "pain of living" afflicts virtually all of us humans. Sadly, escape is never an answer. Escape always seems to ultimately run into a wall. And wherever you go, you take you with you.
But Philip Seymour Hoffman's own words are important to hear in the midst of the shock and mourning. He told the New York Times:
"I try to live my life in such a way that I don't have profound regrets. That's probably why I work too much. I don't want to feel like I missed something important."
I wonder how many people slip away from this life, knowing they have missed something important. And never knowing what it was.
Like a source of untouchable peace that sustains me when the "noise" becomes "too much."
Or a source of strength that enables me to overcome "the pain of living." Rather than escaping into something that solves nothing and creates more pain.
Or a hope so strong that not even the darkest of days can erase it.
Where can I find the power to conquer my inner darkness when there's no scriptwriter to write a happy ending?
Not in me. Not in my greatest achievements. My personal strength. Or even my deepest relationships.
Life is too hard, my resources too finite to find ultimate answers by looking in myself. Or around at the people close to me.
I found them only when I looked up. And saw there a God who loves me, extending His hand to me.
With a peace ... a hope that holds me together, when the noise and the pain are overwhelming.
The darkness doesn't have to win. Not with this Light that nothing can extinguish.
(AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)