|I'll miss you most of all, Scarecrow.|
Michael E. Knight, via TV Guide.
Friday, April 15, 2011
Another One(s) Bites the Dust
What I found most surprising about my father’s death was my grief.
Cancer had eaten away at him for the better part of seven years. I prayed unceasingly for the end of his pain and, selfishly, for the end of my pain, an end to the cruelty that comes with watching a vibrant man wither.
I lay next to my Daddy as he died. And I felt peace there, warm as a blanket.
But as the days went by, the blanket seemed to shrink, and my toes got cold. I now had to learn to live in a world that didn’t include my father.
There is no sufficient preparation for that – no matter how many years you’ve had to imagine it.
Four years after Dad died, I stood in my Brooklyn kitchen, phone to my ear. My boss told me that we’d been canceled, that in seven months I’d be unemployed. My kitchen felt airless.
Now, this “news” was not actually new. We’d seen it coming; we just didn’t know the “when.”
I had hated the not knowing. But then, it turns out, I hated the knowing, too.
As the World Turns was on the air 54 years. I was there for eight. It was a family. Behind the scenes and on camera, it was a family. In the end, we were a family watching our loved one die.
There was a lot of talk about new challenges and doors opening and blah blah blah. But mostly there were just goodbyes. Every day another goodbye.
And then yesterday, news of two more soaps – All My Children and One Life to Live – going off the air. More friends watching their loved ones die.
This announcement was not a surprise. Rumors had been swirling for years and had grown louder over the last couple of weeks. But again, the grief shocked me. The realization that people I love will be saying their goodbyes in just a few months, that I too will have to say goodbye to characters I’ve loved for a quarter century, that pain was sharper than anticipated.
It may seem silly to compare the end of a television show to the death of a parent. They are not equal.
They are, however, similar.
The landscape of my life shifted completely when the lights went out in Oakdale. Almost ten months later, I still feel the aftershocks. And I bet I’ll still feel them 10 years from now, too.
These aren't just jobs. This is a community that is dying. And just like any other death, there follows the question, “What now?”
I say we start with a champagne toast and go from there.