The pop-culture corner of the world was blowing up about 8:30 ET this morning as news spread about the loss of Corey Ian Haim, who will now forever be known by a description like: “troubled/tormented child star of such 80s classics as The Lost Boys and Lucas.”  Drug overdose?  Probably, although only “normal” prescription bottles were found on the scene. His time to go?  Maybe.  Upsetting to me, personally?  More than it should have been.

I’d like to preface this with the perhaps unnecessary acknowledgment that there is tragedy and there is tragedy.  I have been through enough of it in my life (including two nuclear family members lost in sudden accidents in their early 20s) to recognize the serious shit from the blips.  Not to say that Corey’s own family and friends aren’t wrought with the kind of grief I’ve experienced, but I am also not equating the loss of one of my teen idols with anything “real” in my life or anyone else’s.  I feel the need to point this out, by the way, less than 24 hours after Paige Miles couldn’t hold it together on Idol last night during a performance of “Smile.” When asked why she was so emotional, Paige responded with some garbled response about being a huge Michael Jackson fan.  Oh, dear.  So … moving on.

Here is part of the tragedy … Haim was a GOOD actor. His subtle and affecting performance in “Lucas” is indelible and should have launched one hell of a career. As it was, after a long slog downhill following the iconic Lost Boys and relatively entertaining License to Drive, he ultimately wound up on the tormented path of River Phoenix instead of the healing path of Robert Downey Jr. or Drew Barrymore.

And here’s another … much like Michael Jackson, this fool was starting to get his shit together, or so one thought. He’d lost tons of weight, seemed relatively healthy, and was even back on the big screen. I’ve seen this particularly cruel dichotomy in my real life as well. Can it be true that it is brightest before the dark?  Less than two years ago, Corey took out a full-page ad in Variety (above), essentially announcing to the Hollywood world that he was ready for new projects. Oh, how I dreamed of such a career resurgence! Yes, for every Alec Baldwin who has come roaring back to the mainstream there are hundreds of Gary Buseys (and Gary Colemans, for that matter).  But it would have taken one scrappy and visionary director (and a solid script) to reboot Haim.  Think Travolta in Pulp Fiction.  Think Rourke in The Wrestler. Hell … think Anthony Michael Hall in The Dead Zone. I literally thought about this potential comeback no less than once a week (while I’m on the subject, can we get a great project for Alicia Silverstone?  xoxo).  And now, Haim’s Oscar-winning role will exist only in my fan fiction (Ed. Note: I do not write, nor condone, fan fiction).

I think what really hit me hard in the gut was the idea that this is the first of my modest handful of childhood crushes that is no longer with us. I never did get to meet Corey, and now I never will.  Simon Le Bon, George Michael, Joe(y) McIntyre … stay healthy!  At one particularly low point, maybe five years ago, Corey was selling locks of his hair as well as his newly extracted teeth on eBay for a pittance. My friend ELOP and I exclaimed that he should have been selling one-on-one coffee dates for 500 bucks … 750 for one that includes hug. We probably both would have paid, much to our husbands’ chagrin.

His passing is a reminder of my own mortality, as they say.  Days from now, I may think about that sweet boy at the beginning of his career, discussing his facination with locusts, and will likely find myself in the throes of an existential crisis.

I hope you are at peace, my ever-favorite of “The Two Coreys.”

“You can’t ever make me quit, EVER!” — Lucas, 1986