My Own “This Is Us” Moment

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Why do you always want to see movies that make you cry? I don’t get it.

It was 1994 and my soon-to-be-husband and I had just walked out of a movie theater on a crisp fall day on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. I knew my eyes were swollen from crying. We had just seen the movie, “When a Man Loves a Woman,” starring Meg Ryan and Andy Garcia, and I cried through most of it. 

Back then, I liked two types of movies: romantic comedies and tearjerkers. My husband, on the other hand, only liked violent gang or mob-related films. Needless to say, we argued about movies.

I guess I had won on this particular day. But by the time the movie had ended, he thought I was crazy. He just couldn’t wrap his head around the fact that I actually liked to cry in movies.

After my husband died in 2011, I no longer enjoyed being sad at the theater. I experienced heartache in real life, there was no need to watch it on screen. I tried to avoid movies that would bring up those awful feelings.

Eventually, I stopped watching sad and dramatic TV as well. Plus, any series set in a hospital became strictly off-limits. No need for those reminders.

A few years later, there was one series I got hooked on from the first episode, when I was still unsure of the exact subject matter. That show is “This is Us” – adorable family with triplets (The Big Three), one having been adopted, shown sometimes in flashbacks. Seemed harmless. By the time I realized that the father dies when the kids are teenagers and it is one of the saddest shows ever written, I was already hooked. 

We are now in the fourth season of this series and I haven’t missed an episode. I held my breath while watching how Jack dies and the after affects on his wife and children. It hit very close to home. The storyline rang true and the acting was incredible. I kept watching.

A recent scene from “This is Us” truly made me wonder why I continue to torture myself with this show.

I heard my husband in my head saying, Why do you always want to watch things that make you cry?

The “Big Three”, now adults and dealing with personal pain in their own lives, came across a voice recording of their dad talking to them and all sat together while they listened to it. I was bawling.

You see, we have some video tapes (yes I’m that old) that were recorded when my husband was alive and my kids were little. My daughters have recently been asking to somehow have them transferred over to a format where we can download and watch them. 

It was easy to picture my family sitting together and watching our past, just like in that scene from “This Is Us”. 

Could I have turned my TV off and not watched that heart-wrenching scene? Of course I could have, but I did not. 

I am too invested in this show and the characters and I cannot turn away. I also wanted to see the kids’ reactions to their father’s voice. Maybe it would give me a hint to how my own daughters will react.

Once a week I do watch something that makes me sad. By doing this, it also lets me see that others go through the same things after loss that my family and I have been through, which is important. I am now planning on transferring those tapes so that we can take a look into the past, just like the “Big Three” did.


Read Next: How “Friends” Helped Me Ease My Sadness



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