Tears, videos: One lady's way to mourn losses

December 14, 2008

People grieve in many different ways.

I watch videos.

When my father died several years ago, I retreated to the sofa, wrapped myself in a heavy blanket, and watched 10 straight episodes of "Law and Order." That was my dad's favorite TV show. He particularly liked the character of Lenny, played by actor Jerry Orbach. Lenny came from my dad's generation and even bore a certain resemblance to him.

When Jerry Orbach died a few years after my dad, I cried hysterically. My surprised husband comforted me, saying, "Really, he wasn't that good of an actor." I wasn't mourning the loss of Orbach; I was grieving all over again for my dad.

In the past six weeks, I have lost three friends to cancer. My grieving began with a trip to the video store. I wandered the aisles selecting a memorial movie for each. I followed one rule: No sad, mushy, heartbreaking plots. I needed to laugh.


For my friend Marion, I picked "The American President." Like Sydney Wade, the main character in the movie, Marion fought to protect the environment.

As a planner in Montgomery County, Md. she made sure new development included green elements. Marion did not promote trees and open space simply as nice design features. She wanted a comprehensive, sustainable pattern of green that enhanced air and water quality.

Denis was another colleague of mine in Montgomery County. I remembered him by watching eight episodes from the first season of "Scrubs." The lead character is John Dorian, a doctor devoted to the practice of medicine. He is capable, funny, caring and considerate of others. Just like Denis.

My friend Carolyn died after a seven-year battle against cancer. Her daughter and mine were best friends in their teen years. After our daughters drifted apart, Carolyn and I stayed close, in large part due to our involvement in Democratic Party activates.

What better movie choice for Carolyn than "Dick," a comedy about two teenage girls who unwittingly expose the Watergate burglary?

The girls become responsible for the resignation of Richard Nixon, telling Dick "you kick your dog, you're prejudiced and you have a potty mouth ... you are a bad man." Carolyn would agree.

Watching seven hours of video tape and eating three bowls of popcorn does not change the fact that three friends are gone. But those movies helped me smile and sparked nice memories of Marion, Denis and Carolyn.

As a more lasting tribute, I will try to imitate their best qualities when I become a Jefferson County (W.Va.) Commissioner in January.

For Marion, I will work hard to be a good steward of the environment. For Denis, I will try to follow his example of always approaching problems with humor, optimism and respect for all viewpoints.

For Carolyn, I will do my best to always remember government is supposed to make people's lives better.

The next movie I watch will be "Home Alone," a Christmas story filled with life, love and laughs. It is the perfect choice for a holiday season that has started with so much sadness.

Lyn Widmyer is a resident of Jefferson County. W.Va., who writes for

The Herald-Mail.

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