This week truly brought an end to an era that has been significant for my family, in addition to all of the generations who have been with David Letterman since the beginning. On Wednesday, I invited my parents to drive up and spend the night so we could watch the final “Late Show” together. I’m so glad I did, because I began watching Letterman with my parents in my childhood home. I can still remember lying on the couch in our living room with a cold glass of root beer in one hand and our dog Champ cradled in my other. Dad would be settled into his recliner, and if we were lucky, Mom was just starting to nod off on the loveseat as Dave finished his monologue. This was past her bed time, so if she wasn’t with us, she was already asleep upstairs.
Watching the last show wouldn’t have been the same if Mom and Dad hadn’t been with me for the finale. Like Dave said as he was talking about his son and wife who were in the audience that night, “I want to thank my family: my wife, Regina and my son Harry. Thank you. Just seriously, thank you for being my family. I love you both. And really, nothing else matters, does it?”
It was a tear jerking moment and a reality check for all of us. Not just because he was spot on, but also because Dave has been a part of many of our families for the past 33 years. Having family around to support you is very therapeutic, and this includes people we’ve never met. Unfortunately, I don’t think everyone understands this. How do you say goodbye to someone who has been a part of our family for over three decades? Being with Mom and Dad helped me feel comforted as we began to confront the loss of the show, people who have become a part of our family. People who will no longer be there to say good night to us before we go to bed each night.
I’ve heard flippant remarks from people who just can’t comprehend this extension of family and the connections someone on a TV screen can make with people they’ve never met. These people don’t have that experience of being with someone for 33 years, so they just don’t know what it’s like to have that bond. They don’t comprehend this isn’t something you are sad about for a couple days and then you move on. If you weren’t here to experience the enormity of Jonny Carson retiring, then you will most likely find it more difficult to conceive the significance of these rare people who have become a part of our lives for decades.
It still doesn’t seem real to me yet. But the joy he brought into the lives of so many people’s families over the years and his realization that his own family is the only thing that really matters to him created an even deeper bond than we had before. You see, that’s how I feel about my own immediate family. So I was glad we were able to bid farewell to Dave and the rest of the crew together. Those final reflections he made towards the end of the show were therapeutic in a plethora of ways, and I imagine those benefits are different for every soul he touched.
MY HOPES: My hope is that there are people around the world who have been the reason you have connected with your family members on a different level. Whether it be a poet, an actor, an author, a musician, an environmentalist, someone fighting for social justice, a politician…There are so many people whom we’ve never met who can help us relate to our family members on a deeper level. Be grateful for those people. They may never know how they improved the quality of your relationships, just like we may never know how we affect those who have traveled through our own lives. But acknowledge they are there, and take every opportunity to connect with those who feel just as strongly as you do. People who act as the impetus for helping us bond with those closest to us are irreplacable treasures. For this, I am grateful.