Donald D’Haene is a retired London performer, reviewer, TV host, author and columnist. He’s also not a hugger. Today, I’m handing my blog space over to him.
Recently I sat in a coffee shop talking two hours with someone with the hopes of making a connection over our individual losses. Our experiences, coping mechanisms so different, loss being the only common denominator, we did not.
Oddly enough, that same week, a stand up comedian’s interaction with a stranger (thanks to a visual recording and its ensuing supposed controversy allowing me to witness it) bonded me at hello.
Jerry Seinfeld, not wanting and not delivering a hug to a stranger, reminded me I was still alive, here, present.
Truth – apparently a disease in a Donald Trump world – can ostracize one. In Seinfeld’s case, that may be the desired effect. After all, that show of his about “nothing” certainly shed a spotlight on lies, truth and its creator’s issues.
Jerry’s non-hug made front page news. My private “Kesha” moment brought me face to face with someone as big in life as in death.
Flashback movie reel April, 1995, six seasons into the Seinfeld run: Me, sitting in audience at The Palace Theatre’s Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean.
On stage this long, thin dark-haired young woman appears in front of me – striking – as if she were a butterfly but oddly lit from within. So, more like a firefly. Couldn’t take my eyes off her. Who is this effervescent creature? The program says Lesleigh Turner.
The movie reel changes to the following year: me in my apartment building.
The elevator doors opens and this same firefly appears – this time with gigantic wings – she flies out. Internally, it struck me, how odd that this person seemed larger than life off stage as well as on. Externally I gasped out loud, “It’s you, the five and dime pregnant lady.” The laugh – a gigantic laugh – and then the hug – hugging me a stranger, the world’s biggest non-hugger, well, next to Seinfeld.
But I love non-human creatures and it seemed okay that this firefly with titanic wings enveloped me.
Where was I going that day? I don’t know. Just like a Seinfeld episode, in my flashbacks, the entrance and the exit are the point.
Lesleigh’s entrances were always the point. So was her exit Halloween last year when my best friend took her own life after a life-long struggle with depression.
Since that moment, her exit has taken over my life. Even on a best day ever, out of nowhere, I’m suddenly out of breath, suffocating in grief. It’s like when I get the hiccups. No really. I just have to wait until each episode pans out. The duration cannot be predicted.
Control freak that I am, I don’t get a free pass, whether it be hiccups or grief. Suicide is invasive to those left behind. Where is a Samurai when you need him? Here’s my heart. Take it please. One swift motion. I just want the grief to end.
Susan Sontag wrote, “Death is the opposite of everything.” It is. Death was not in my script. But to love is to risk someone stomping, chipping away at your soul. Life is transient. Death is real. Are my flashbacks of Lesleigh safe because I have survived?
When I close my eyes, one of the last times we saw each other she hugged me – of course. I gave her the light touch back and she wouldn’t let go and I light touched some more and gave it my all with two fingers. Then….she licked my face.
Imagine if I had really hugged her.
The past is safe. Death can’t erase her. Her history is alive.
And the show does go on, doesn’t it? Seinfeld ended two decades ago yet Jerry still revisits his issues. Beside control, my borderline germ phobia (another thing in common with Seinfeld), the characters may change, but the issues remain the same.
Like my still not wanting a hug. I’m alive. Thank you, Jerry Seinfeld.