I’ve been in the thespian community for a few years now and while I act and direct or help out with sets, I generally stick to myself or people I know. Is that the introvert in me? I don’t know. The truth is that I am shy. I will reach out when it’s needed, but mostly, I just do my thing.
Funny! I met my husband that way. I met him through learning to write a play, but this story is not about him. It’s about the man who was sitting with him the day I met my husband. While I was flirting with Brad, the president of the theatre company, in hopes of getting a part, I totally ignored the man who was sitting with him, Jim the producer of the show.
I even ignored Jim the first few Mondays I went to Big Daddy’s for a reading. I would go straight to the one man I knew Brad, my future husband (didn’t know that then) and say hello. I might have said hello to Brad’s son too, but I don’t know. One Monday, Jim made me know who he was. After I said my usual hello to the couple of persons I knew, I sat down. Jim came up to me and said, “What? Am I chopped liver or something?” I was taken aback. I back tracked. He was right. I hadn’t say hello to him. After that day, I never missed saying hello to Jim again.
As I spent more time with Brad, I would see Jim there. It was a Brad/Jim combination that had kept the theatre going all these year. I didn’t know Jim very well then, but over time, I got more comfortable talking to him. I would be there for Brad and help out and Jim would always thank me. Eventually, with Jim, I took the liberty of offering advice about the theatre company.
One day, Jim offered me a position on the board of the theatre company. I looked at Brad who was working at something in a distance. Jim noticed my glance and said, “If you are thinking about what Brad would say, don’t worry about him. I’ll deal with him. I’m asking you to join!” I declined. I thought it was too much. Yes, it was a big mistake on my part. Until today, it’s been a huge regret of mine. I later joined the board, more in memory and honor of a man who respected me enough to ask me to join, but I wish I would have served on the board when Jim was around. I was never on the board when Jim was alive, and I don’t know what it would have been like. I do often feel his presence at the meetings. I had often joked to Jim about not joining the board and stating that I was the invisible board member. “I’m there Jim! You just can’t see me,” I would say. Well, Jim is the invisible board member now and he’s watching on the sidelines.
It is a great honor for me that Jim saw the first play I directed and was very happy with the results. After the show, he pretty much gave me his blessings to direct a full length. It was those times that I was getting to know Jim better. I was getting to know how much time and effort he put into the theatre and just when I felt like I wanted to work with him some more, he took ill. I saw him on his death bed, the day before he died. He couldn’t talk, but he very clearly nodded his head when I asked him to give me permission to direct a full length play. See, the theatre company was going through changes and without Jim to defend me, I wasn’t going to be given a full length play. Jim in the presence of my husband was using his last bits of energy to nod and tell Brad that I needed my play.
I’m in the middle of rehearsing actors for my first full length and I miss Jim terribly. The thing is that Jim wasn’t my best friend. I don’t even think he was a friend. We were acquaintances. We spoke when we were at the theater but nothing major. The usual hi, how are you and bye, or I would talk shop with him, but nothing more. Today, I look back and see how much he was the wind beneath the wings of this theatre company; my husband too, but without Jim, we have taken a major hit.
I guess we don’t consciously think about death everyday or think about seeing someone one last time. We may think about our families, but not anyone else. We don’t know what they mean to us, if they mean anything at all, and then when they are gone, you realize what they brought to the table. Gosh Jim. I still miss you. Wish you could take a break from heaven and stop by and watch my first play. Would be nice!