In the world of myths, there are gods and there are men, and by myth here, I mean beings that far exceed the standards of normalcy. Of course, on the former Christopher Hitchens had strong opinions which, I’m sure, are not lost on any of my readers. But rest assured, if a man could achieve the heights of immortality, while also having a strong opinion about it, Christopher Hitchens was that man.
Enough will be said about his accomplishments, which were extraordinary, and of his controversial views, which were numerous. So I’ll leave those duties for the media. In this post, I’d like to only touch upon my deep grief at his passing and the few moments where my life and his life intersected, and the impression he left on me.
A few years ago, when I was still young and foolish, I had the pleasure of meeting Hitchens. At the time, I was a part of a radio show and we asked him, among others, to sit down with us for a personal interview. Hitchens happily obliged. Unfortunately I missed part of that interview, but he more than made up for it when we ran into each other later in the hotel bar (it was at a conference).
He had dropped something on the ground, a notepad, so I picked it up and walked it over to him. He made a funny quip about the interview being far too short and then shared a drink with me for a few more minutes until his cab came. We had a few laughs, shared some insightful thoughts about the state of the world, and then he was gone.
At another point (I cannot recall for the life of me if it was before or after) we had another long interview with Hitchens. Every time we spoke to him, we came away feeling as though we had just engaged life in a new way; we were re-energized, motivated. He had that sort of personality, at least that was how we knew him.
I was devastated when I found out he had cancer. When I read this evening that he had passed away, I had to fight back tears. It isn’t even that I agree with Hitchens; I enjoyed reading his words, I enjoyed talking to him, but I can’t really say I fully supported his opinions on most subjects. And isn’t it something that I should be so affected by the passing of a man I shared a drink with at a conference but once? Telling, I’d like to think, of the sort of human being that Hitchens had been. That he could reach across ideological boundaries, that he could communicate to people who completely disagreed with him–Christians, Muslims, even Democrats–in such a way that people still loved him.
I will surely miss Christopher Hitchens. The world will be much more dull without his personality. Please read Vanity Fair’s piece on him.
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