I wrote a week or two ago about This Is Us, the excellent NBC show I decided to start watching based on what I had heard about it.
Last night, we finished season one, episodes seventeen and eighteen. The last episode was, to be honest, a bit of a dud. I get what they were doing — building up to a cliffhanger. It’s kind of like the ending of a movie where you know there will be a sequel. The ending, the drama, the ultimate event is postponed. What the final episode really was about was creating a bridge between season one and season two.
But episode seventeen? Damn. I didn’t just have the watery eyes going, I had tears down my cheeks. At least two or three times. I’m weak. I know. I’m a softie. I know. But this show is just so … over-dramatic, filled with trauma, every character has a story line fraught with peril and despair. And it continues to strike chords with me.
The kind of person I am …
A few years ago, I went backpacking with my brother. I’ve written about this trip before. It was while we were hanging out by Granite Lake, enjoying the peace and quiet, that he told me that a few times a year … he’s a diabetic … he wakes up in the middle of the night with low blood sugar. He has to eat glucose tablets or consume some other sugar to get things right, but sometimes he wakes up in the grip of the thing and can’t quite get his mind and body to work.
At the time he was married and living with his wife and step son. He told me about an incident a week previous where it happened and he tried to get his glucose without waking them but he could not get the container open so he finally screamed until his wife woke up and helped him.
He then disclosed that it happened the night before — while we slept in our respective tents. And I slept through the whole thing.
Fast forward a few years. He is divorced now and just moved to a foothill community about an hour away where he lives by himself. I called him a couple of weeks ago and asked him how it was going. “Every day is a vacation,” he replied.
So, today he had his family up for a barbecue. An incredible gathering. Our parents; my wife and I; my sister who lives five hours away, but happened to be nearby this weekend; our niece and her husband and two little girls; and his stepdaughter from his first marriage and her husband and two children. It was just an incredible opportunity to be with family.
But before that happened, I tried to get in touch with him a couple of days ago. I left a message on his landline phone. He didn’t call me back. I waited a day. On Saturday morning, I left a message on his cell phone. And waited all day.
As we sat down to watch episode seventeen of the first season of This Is Us, I had not heard from him yet. Yes, I was convinced that something had happened to him. I told the missus that we were going to leave early today so we could get to his house before anybody else did. All I could think of was what he told me on that backpacking trip and him living up there by himself with nobody to help him if he needed it.
Of course, a short time later he called. He was hiking near Tahoe. Of course he was. That is what he does. He leads a healthier, more active life as a diabetic than 99.9% of the American population.
But these are the things that I connect to in shows like This Is Us. The loss, the pain, the suffering, and the fear that something like this will happen. Episode seventeen revolves primarily around the memorial for a family member that died and it is just so painful to watch these scenes and the pain, even though I know it’s fiction and they are actors and that it is all made up, and not see it coming for me as well.
But that pain is a part of life. I’d rather feel it than run away from it.
Anyway, I’ve rambled enough, but I’ll leave you with this one line from episode seventeen that hit on something else. When the mail man finds out about the individual who died, he cries as well and says that this individual would always stop and talk to him, that the neighborhood would miss him because “Nobody ever stops just to talk anymore.”
A truer line was never spoken. Stop and talk. To your neighbor. To your co-worker. To your son, your daughter, your spouse, your crazy Uncle. The barista behind the counter. Stop and talk. Connect. It’s better than the alternative.