The Passing of Luke Perry
February 28, 2019.
The day was like any other… until my phone buzzed.
As I sat at my desk at work, I read a TMZ alert that shocked me to my core.
Luke Perry, our Luke Perry, my Luke Perry, had a stroke.
He was only 52 years old.
The medical emergency had taken place the day prior, the very same day FOX announced it was bringing most of the “Beverly Hills, 90210” cast back together for a new series.
Stunned, I went into a private office and immediately called my parents. Through tears, I told them the news and then struggled to refocus on my work — not only that day but all the days after.
The next earth-shattering TMZ alert came on March 4.
Luke was gone.
He was only 52 years old.
Again I retreated into a private office, again I called my parents through tears, again I found myself unable to concentrate on my work.
I had been fully expecting this dreaded news. As someone who had spent 10 years in entertainment journalism, I knew how these things often went: If a star suffered a medical emergency, their camps often tried to present a rosy picture in the aftermath. But between the news of Luke’s stroke on February 28 and the news of his passing on March 4, there were no real updates. In the days between, I knew that if he had regained consciousness, if he was talking, if doctors expected him to recover — well, his team would’ve released a statement saying so.
Instead, there was silence. And that silence told me something was very, very wrong… and likely only going to get worse.
Those who know me well know I like being right. Here is one case where I wished, and still wish, I wasn’t.
I spent that night, hours after the official word of Luke’s death, sharing on Twitter nearly all of the “Beverly Hills, 90210” cast tributes I could find and nearly all the obituaries and media reflections. I did it again the next day and the day after and the day after that.
I went into a “funk,” the word I use for a period of sadness, a period of not feeling like myself, that can sometimes lead to a depressive episode for me.
As the days wore on, my mom questioned the effect Luke’s passing was having on me. “But you didn’t know him,” she told me. Didn’t know him? We may have never actually, truly, physically met, but I sure felt like I knew him.
As not only an adolescent but also a young adult, the “Beverly Hills, 90210” cast and characters were the only consistent friends in my life. Others came and went, but Luke and Dylan and Jennie and Kelly and Jason and Brandon and Tori and Donna and so on were my friends who were always there.
Now I had lost one of them forever.
Now Luke was gone.
My grief was real.
Since falling in love with “Beverly Hills, 90210” and with Luke in 1995-1996, I often dreamt about him. Sometimes he appeared in my dreams as Luke, sometimes as Dylan. I loved them both more than any other actor, any other male character. The dreams were often of the romantic variety. In other dreams, I was surprised by the whole cast at once and would collapse on the floor in hysterics.
I still dream about him.
And it’s taken me more than a year and a half to put my feelings into words like this. Though I won’t be publishing this post until November 23, as I sit here today writing it, it is October 11.
He would’ve been only 54 years old.
His passing still doesn’t feel real to me and probably never will.
At one point only weeks ago, a random thought entered my mind: “I can’t wait until Luke appears on the ‘Beverly Hills 90210 Show’ podcast!” And then I remembered.
How could I be so stupid?
Well, this wasn’t actually out of character for me. I haven’t accepted my aunt’s 2009 passing, either, and one day I was walking on the boardwalk at Jones Beach and thought, “I should call my aunt and talk to her as I walk!” And then I remembered.
This is what happens when deaths don’t feel real.
When it instead feels like you just haven’t seen or heard from that person lately, but surely they still exist. Surely their life continues on.
Luke’s life does continue on. Through us. Through our memories. Through the movies of my subconscious. Through beautiful tribute videos like the one created by Todd Hebert for the “Beverly Hills 90210 Show” podcast’s “Super Show” (see below).
He’s still with us and always will be.
I remain sad for myself and every fan who never got the chance to tell him how greatly he has affected our lives. But I like to think that somehow, he knows.
Oh my gosh! You put my own feelings into words… 😢
<3 <3 <3
Crying about LP for the second time in the last 24 hours!