By: Paul Murano – Jan. 2022

Right before the year changed from 2021 to 2022, there was a flurry of celebrity deaths. Just as ESPN was airing a tribute show to NFL coach, broadcaster, and pitchman John Madden, he unexpectedly died at 85.

The networks were readying to celebrate publicly the one-hundredth birthday of Betty White, actress, comedian, and game show celebrity, when she suddenly died at 99.

Along with these two, South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu passed away, as did former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and Dan Reeves, popular NFL player and coach.

Before that, succumbing to their mortality were popular Red Sox player and announcer Jerry Remy, home run king Hank Aaron, who held the MLB home run record before Barry Bonds surpassed it in the steroid era; and Tommy Heinsohn, all-star player and broadcaster for the Boston Celtics who died just weeks before 2021.

In politics, former Vice-President Walter Mondale, Senator and presidential candidate Bob Dole both joined former Secretary of State Colin Powell and Donald Rumsfeld in death.

Other well know members of the class of 2021 are lawyer F. Lee Bailey, and radio talk host G. Gordon Liddy who joined the one and only Rush Limbaugh in death.

Actors Cicily Tyson, Hal Bolbrook, and Christopher Plummer who played Captain von Trapp on the Sound of Music said farewell to the world; as did Ed Asner of Lou Grant fame and Gavin MacLeod (Murray and Captain Stubing on Love Boat), who finally joined co-stars Mary Tyler Moore, Valerie Harper (Rhoda), and Ted Knight (Ted) on the other side of life.

In pop culture, Mike Nesmith recently made it three out of four Monkees who are no longer monkeying around; and Dawn Wells (Mary Ann Summers) who died of Covid made it six out of seven castaways who have left Gilligan’s Island for an even more mysterious tour.

And that’s just the beginning of those who left us in 2021. Many loved ones in our personal lives also succumbed to their fragile mortality this past year. The bottom line is there is a constant turn-over in this world, of people being conceived and dying.

I am keenly aware that more often than not, when I watch television I am watching dead people. When I listen to music, read a book, or surf the net I am continuously encountering people who are dead. That would freak out people in every other era in human history. In fact, in today’s technologically virtual world, we may encounter more dead people than those who are alive on any given day, and think nothing of it.

This life is very short. It sounds like a cliché, but it’s not. The New Testament book of James tries to remind us of this in 4:13-15: “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we shall go into such and such a town, spend a year there doing business, and make a profit.’ You have no idea what your life will be like tomorrow. You are a puff of smoke that appears briefly and then disappears. Instead you should say, ‘If the Lord wills it, we shall live to do this or that.’”

Although it can be difficult, this earthly life is not meant to be clinged to. It’s like being in the womb before birth; you sense there’s something more but have no direct access to it. Nonetheless, after birth you never want to go back. Only in knowing that this world is a testing ground for the next, one that is tainted with suffering and injustice due to our sins, can we begin to derive meaning from our temporary stay.

God, who is Love (1 John 4:8), wants us to be saved from this state of death and come to the knowledge of truth (1 Tm 2:4), which can set us free (Jn 8:32). “I am the Resurrection and the life;” He says, “Whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live” (Jn 11:25).

Since New Year’s eve has passed and we’ve been gifted with another year of life, a new year’s resolution would serve us well to take off the blinders and look at reality as it is. We can trust in our Creator. All we need to do is say Yes to Him, with our hearts, our lives and our choices. He does the rest.

We are made in a way that we are destined to exist forever past this life. Our only options are to live that ‘forever’ in the fulfillment of God’s love in heaven or in the misery of selfish rejection of Him in hell.
As for all those who have gone before us, whether they are an acquaintance or a loved one, the only question that’s important, and has ever really been important, is: Where are they now?

Paul Murano is producer and host of Beneath the Surface video podcasts, has taught college philosophy & theology, and is a producer/writer for St. Michael’s Media. Check out his website at E-mail Paul at