The Elephant in the Room
To post in the blog today I had to face the elephant in the room – the fact that my previous post was made in June of 2017.
It’s not laziness that’s kept me from posting, or a lack of activity or work. No, I’ve been busy. I’ve also been in deep grief. See, that’s what’s hanging over this post. That’s the big thing that’s been ignored until now. How can I make sense of what I’ve been through so others might learn from my experiences? How can I best explain or express such a devastating and transformative period of loss and growth? To post, I had to sit down and face these last few years head on. To be frank, I wouldn’t wish them on my worst enemy.
I’m not the first gig working creative that’s lost a parent. And I’m sure it’s not unique that months after losing my dad, my last living grandparent took a turn and passed away as well. Nothing about loss is particularly original, but it is insanely personal and oh so complicated. Being a “producer type” certainly has it’s advantages when you have less than 24 hours notice to pack up your life and book travel, and zero time to prep when you arrive at the hospital where your parent is hooked to machines and is an hour away from a stage 4 cancer diagnosis. That’s where the advantages end. When the reality you’re immersed in involves a fast moving cancer that will take your Dad, no amount of experience is sufficient to get you through.
To my credit, even in all the chaos and emotional upheaval, I did revert back to my training in production and take exceptional notes and email gorgeous daily updates to extended family who requested to be kept informed. I also inked a development deal, advance a client’s project, and ensured a local dealership would buy back my father’s brand new Dodge Durango, all while operating with a 103.5 fever. That’s the training. That’s the auto pilot. That’s the elephant.
We none of us know when a call like I received will come in. As dialed in as I was that something seemed “off” with my dad, and as aware as I was that my grandparent was 97 and in poor health, the fact that I could lose them within a year of each other really did not compute. I was a freelancer who hit that wall – hard. I stopped down my life to help my Dad die. My work would be on hold and my income would stop entirely as long as it took so I could usher him through that last chapter. My “producer skills” would be put to good use sorting through his accounts, files, and coordinating the clean out and sale of his home. Once things were organized, to a point, I’d be flying back and forth from Los Angeles to Houston to try and pick up gigs and handle my necessities. Meanwhile, my grandmother would take a turn and my mother would need my support and assistance in a time when I didn’t think I had anything more to give. Pro tip: the only way out is through.
And that’s the big take away I want to share in this blog post. What I experienced is a “worst nightmare” scenario, and I’m still here to talk about it. I wouldn’t wish what I went through on my worst enemy, but it is finally in the past. The loss remains, of course, but the deep grief has dissipated. In fact, just as I really felt my legs under me again Covid-19 decided it was the right time to surface. This too shall pass. For anyone reading this who has worked in the trenches of entertainment or produced in the field, believe me when I say you have what it takes to handle anything that comes your way. The elephant in the room is that we’re all vulnerable in this industry and taking a personal day isn’t allowed. If the day comes, however, when you need to step out of your life to handle things back home and be with loved ones who need you – I promise you, if I’m any indication, you’ll do what’s required of you… and you will get through it.