I am a sucker for TV dramas. And, while I have certainly done my fair share of binging guilty pleasure TV like Bachelor in Paradise and the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, I really love a good show that I can sink my heart into. A few years ago, I binged my way through all of Parenthood, and I’ve been looking forward to This is Us ever since NBC started showing previews back in the spring.
So, fast forward to now. This is Us premiered last night on NBC, and even though I knew it was going to be a tear-jerker with potential grief triggers (they show babies being born in the flippin’ trailer after all), I figured I could use a good cry at the end of the day. So why the hell not?
Let me start by just saying, I loved the pilot. I cried like a flippin’ baby, but maybe it’s because it just hit so close to home. (Warning: There may be some spoilers here if you’re planning to watch This is Us and haven’t seen last night’s pilot yet, but I’ll try to keep them to a minimum.)
Anyways, near the end of the show, the doctor comes out to find Jack in the waiting room to let him know that one of their babies was lost during his wife’s surgery. He uses the word stillborn. On national TV. In a brand new TV drama. Watch the scene here (but maybe have the tissues ready):
Can I just say that this doctor nailed it? This scene is so real. So raw. The grief is palpable:
“…but we lost our very first child during the delivery. Reason I went into this field, truth be told. I have spent five decades delivering babies–more babies than I can count. But there is not a single day that goes by that I don’t think of the child I lost. And I’m an old man now. I like to think that because of the child that I lost–because of the path that he sent me on–that I have saved countless other babies. I like to think that maybe one day you’ll be an old man like me, talking a younger man’s ear off, explaining to him how you took the sourest lemon that life has to offer and turned it into something resembling lemonade. If you can do that, then you will still be taking three babies home from this hospital. Just maybe not the way you planned. I don’t know if that was meaningful or senile, but I thought it ought to be said…”
I don’t know where this storyline will go, especially after the unexpected plot twist that immediately followed this scene. I don’t know if they’ll address this loss of a baby at all beyond the pilot episode.
But I do know this: sometimes a television show can trigger grief, and sometimes it can trigger hope. This scene did both last night. And again this morning.
Because losing a child before they’re born is the absolute worst grief imaginable. It doesn’t go away. It doesn’t stop. I think about Alexander every single day, and there will not be a single day that will ever go by that I won’t think about him: how I love him, how I miss him, and how I wish more than anything that things were different.
But, at the same time, there must be hope. Hope that someday, we’ll be the old man and woman, talking a younger couple’s ear off, and explaining to them how we took the sourest lemon that life has to offer and turned it into something resembling lemonade.
Something resembling lemonade.
I’m not sure what that looks like yet, but we’ll keep taking forward steps. We’ll keep talking about Alexander, and sharing his story. We’ll keep clinging for dear life to the hope of our faith. We’ll keep thanking God every single day for the doctors and nurses that were with us through the worst moments of our lives. We’ll keep letting him shape our lives and our marriage.
Because in doing those things, we have brought him home with us: just not in the way that we had imagined.