There. I said it. I’m probably the only person you’ll ever hear say those words, but I mean them. 100%. With my whole, entire heart; I’m thrilled that the beloved patriarch of the Pearson family on “This is Us” passed away.
But before I dive into the deep end, here, let’s chat about why I’m glad that he was born.
Jack’s “birth” on our television sets was truly quite revolutionary. I honestly can’t recall if it was the very first episode, or if it took a few for it to really sink in, but I remember thinking to myself that history was being made as I sat absolutely riveted by the character being portrayed before my perpetually tear-stained eyes.
Could it be? Could a network truly have constructed a father figure worthy of imitation? Could we have finally overcome the typical stereotyping that led to less-than-deserving role models for husbands and fathers across the globe; men who, time and time again, seemed to be overly goofy, painfully incapable, or essentially inconsequential?
It had happened. And for a moment there, Jack was untouchable. He was flawless. Unattainable, yet still “real” enough to be believable.
And then came Jack’s disease. His addiction to alcohol, a debilitating battle many face each and every day, was subtly pointed to episode after episode, until it was clear that his drinking was a serious issue. There was a moment there that I thought to myself No! Don’t do this! Don’t ruin him; don’t taint our perfect Jack!
But, in true Jack fashion, he navigated his disease with such strength and grace. There were some painful scenes, of course, but as a whole, he somehow seemed to maintain his flawlessness in the midst of flaw. It simply didn’t make sense.
Which is why I’m glad that Jack died. Because, completely subconsciously, I had been comparing this fictional man to my living, breathing, real-life husband. I’m not surprised I did it; it’s an easy trap to fall prey to, that nasty comparison. We do it both consciously and subconsciously all. the. stinking. time.
Yet I can never remember a time that I’d become immersed in comparing someone – a perfectly fabricated someone, mind you – to my wonderful husband. Of course there have been moments in time that a man on a movie screen or a friend’s husband has done something sweet, displaying some beautiful, romantic gesture, where I thought Wow! Wouldn’t that be nice if Randy would do that for me? That would be the life.
But I’d quickly snap back to reality because, wholly, that person didn’t behave in a way that I’d truly want my husband to emulate. It was a singular, fleeting, lovely moment, but that was that. We all tend to have those, no matter what the behind-the-scenes may look like.
This Jack character, though. He was a different story. The way he fathered his children, adored his wife, and was simply a good man – those were traits that reappeared episode after episode after episode, making it easier to lose myself in comparison than I even realized.
It wasn’t until Jack’s death that I recognized that I’d devoured the bait; hook, line, and sinker.
No matter how real he seemed, he was not. Of course I was sad that he’d died because I’d become emotionally invested in the show, but it was a sadness that passed as soon as the credits began rolling because, as television goes, it was fake. So that’s when guilt consumed me, because I finally saw how embarrassingly ridiculous I’d been all this time.
I’d become so wrapped up in wishing and hoping that my perfectly amazing husband would act like someone who legitimately was acting, saying to myself – more consciously than I had originally recalled – oh, I hope Randy does that with our kids someday. Gosh, I wish he’d look at me the way he looks at her.
But, spoiler alert for me, he won’t. Because this is our beautiful, messy, quirky, unique life. Not the exquisitely scripted, intricately planned one that the Pearson’s live every Tuesday night (unless my life is like The Truman Show, which I do consider from time to time).
What he is going to do, though, is be the perfectly imperfect man that I married. The one who is passionate, driven, caring, handsome, hard-working, silly, determined, and loving. The one who slurps his milk when he eats cereal, makes me homemade cards for birthdays and anniversaries, loves his car
more than almost as much as our boys and me, and makes me laugh until tears are streaking my cheeks nearly every day.
That’s the man I want. That’s the man I get to look at and say, “Wow! Did I hit the jackpot or what? I hope that our boys grow up to be just like him one day.”
He’s my “Jack,” only better. Because he’s Randy.
And if it took Jack dying for that reminder that I shouldn’t have needed, then so be it; I’m glad he died.