Last night we watched the television program “This Is Us”. If you haven’t seen the show, it’s must see TV. If you haven’t seen the episode from February 22, 2017, spoiler alert. Stop reading now.
In last night’s episode, Randall takes William on a road trip back to his home town of Memphis. William is Randall’s father who abandoned Randall as an infant. Randall makes contact with William after being adopted and raised by another family. Randall is a highly successful professional. William is a recovering drug addict. William has terminal cancer and the two of them are getting to know each other as William is dying and has moved into Randall’s home.
The episode does a great job of encapsulating William’s life from the time he is born during World War II. In just an hour, we get a feel for his ups and downs. His father dies in the war. So, he never even met him. William’s single mother raises him and we see the full arc of his life from infant being loved on by his mother, to old man, getting to know his now grown son.
Normally during a television program or movie I will find one primary character to identify with. In This is Us, I have been torn between Randall, the son with two daughters and a wife, and William, the old man. Randall is several years younger than I am and William is a few years older than I am. When William is on his death bed and says he’s a little afraid of dying, I could relate. As much as I’m looking forward to death, dying is still a little scary. I’m not ready to go yet.
Last night as I slept, I dreamt of my sister, Bridget. For some reason, I was trying to figure out how old she was. Was she born in 1974 or 1972? It was ‘72. Once I figured that out, I was trying to figure out how old that made her. I knew (in my dream) that it was 2016, but i could not do the math. The last age I remembered was her being 16 (that’s how old she was when we got married). But, that didn’t seem right. Finally, the math clicked. She is 42. Wow. I thought. How old does that make me. Then, I did that math. Suddenly, I felt ancient. I have never in my life thought I would live this long. I’m 55. I began to feel what I think it feels like to die. It was kind of scary. I didn’t like the feeling, so I woke up.
As time for getting up rolled around this morning, I thought of Shayna. It’s been 20 months since I last saw her. Unbelievable. Today, we leave for the Back to Your Center weekend retreat where we hope to find a reset on life. We’re leaving out of the Cincinnati airport which brought back memories of picking her and Tywana up from there after the volleyball tournament in Florida. That was on a Saturday, she passed the following Wednesday. So, picking her up is still etched in my memory.
The arc of a life. So many ups and downs. Good times. Bad times. We endure. We enjoy. And, eventually, we go Home. There was a quick shot in the show last night when William had passed and he walks into his mother’s arms. She had grown old before she passed, but there she was, young and vibrant looking the way he remembered her, waiting to be with her boy again. The remembrance of that scene brought me to tears this morning.