I don’t have time to watch much television, but I do enjoy movies of all kinds, and there is some pretty great television out there these days too. I just have to pick and choose - there is so much, and I’m too busy living life these days to spend too much of it staring into the idiot box…but still, I do look forward to those down times, those few hours a week I take for myself, to zone out and tune into to the fictional lives I’ve allowed myself to become attached to.
I watched more when Mike was alive. We were both huge geeks and never missed anything Star Wars or Lord of the Rings or Indiana Jones or Marvel comics…as an avid archer, he devoured the Hunting Game books and was looking forward to the two final movies in that series, but he died before they came out. I have yet to see them, or much else that has come out in our batch of favorites since he died. It’s just no fun without him, and when I see ads for them it makes my heart hurt.
His favorite books were the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon…we read the entire series together (the second time for me) and turned a lot of other friends and family on to it. We speculated heavily on the casting for the TV series we knew was coming; alas, he didn’t make that one either (or her last book, for that matter). This series I have been watching though, with my dear friend Cheryl, who read the series at his excited recommendation. She happens to also be a widow, so she relates to everything going on with me quite a bit, and since she knew him she also gets how much Mike would have been geeking out at the whole thing. So I’m immensely grateful for that, but it’s still bittersweet.
Mike and I also loved watching a lot of classic films - it was he who introduced me to The Thin Man and the Marx brothers, among so many others, which became some of my all-time favorites. He did amazing impressions and was constantly entertaining me with his Cary Grant, Kathryn Hepburn, Arnold Schwarzenegger, you name it…his Paul Lynde had me in stitches almost from the day we met.
That all said, I still had my personal guilty pleasures…shows that were mine and mine alone, which he had no interest in and in fact refused to share. I get it. I do love me a good soap opera - always have. I still remember that tiny old black and white TV I had in my dorm room in the 80s, so glued to General Hospital in the days of Luke and Laura that I even scheduled my classes around it. So when Grey’s Anatomy started up over a decade ago now, I was hooked…and never left. I have seen every single episode, I must admit.
The night Mike died we watched part of To Catch a Thief which happened to be on TV, one of his favorites. Then he had gone to bed early, as he usually did, and I stayed up to catch up on my Grey’s, as I often did. I remember watching two episodes, then putting the dog into his room with him before I turned in (we slept separately, due to his terrible snoring). I remember the dog jumping on his bed, and noticed briefly that he didn’t stir…but didn’t think much about it. I figured he was just sleeping hard; we’d had a long day, and I wasn’t really surprised. The next morning, when I found him still in that same position, after waking up to a dark and quiet house and no hot coffee…that moment was a shock that will live with me forever. He was already stiff and blue, so even though the coroner put his death for the 17th, I will always suspect he had that heart attack pretty soon after going to bed that night on the 16th…when I was blissfully unaware, watching my Grey’s Anatomy. So needless to say, this last episode made my heart hurt for a lot of reasons.
If you watch the show but are not caught up: Spoiler alert.
McDreamy is dead.
The writers killed off the character that I had grown to love…a character who had come to terms with his marriage and family; the character of his wife, Meredith, was a personal hero of mine…strong, smart…I watched their fictional relationship develop, ebb and flow for so long. So when this character died last week, I sat there, stunned, tears streaming down my face…
I know it’s silly. I know there is so much real horror and heartbreak out there in the world…but, these characters had just become dear to me, somehow. I always looked forward to spending an hour a week in this alternate universe…and now, he was gone.
For a few days after I vowed I’d never watch the show again. I felt devastated and abandoned by these writers. But now, I think, I will watch, to see how they write the newly widowed surgeon dealing with the loss. I wonder, if it will be relatable. I wonder, whether they will portray the grief in a way I can fathom. I wonder how this series will deal with the widowhood of its main character.
However unimportant it all may seem in the great scheme of things, I’ve been haunted by everything I’ve written here this week. The night Mike died; all the hours we spent together enjoying watching TV; all the things I can’t watch without him; if I hadn’t been watching Grey’s that night could I have found him earlier? Known there was something wrong? Could he have been saved?? Was it my fault somehow? Am I a bad person for still watching that show, and feeling sad that a fictional character is dead? Why does it bother me that much? And why can’t I stop thinking about it?
I have no final answers, this week. It’s just…it’s just another week on this planet, another one without Mike, but with all the bits and pieces that make up the experience I’m still living, all the good and the bad.