Sheldon Patinkin was the first person to see me as a leading lady. He saw it in me even when I didn’t. He looked at me and saw Mother in Ragtime. He looked at me and saw bubbly and fragile Lou Ellen in Oh Boy. When I shared my news that I was so excited to be called back for Petra in A Little Night Music at Peninsula Players, he said “No. No. No. You’re the wife. You’re Anne.” I remember being so tickled by that. That ANYONE would see me as Anne. But his eyes sparkled and he said it with such certainty that you couldn’t help but believe that it was possible. I never thought I was pretty or thin or talented enough for those roles, but he did.
He thought I was the heroine and sometimes he even thought that I was the ingenue and cast me as such. He saw things in me that no one else did and no one else does. I am embarrassed and feel presumptuous, but on occasion I was his muse. As weird as I feel saying it, I know that it’s true. To be even the occasional muse of such a great great man was and is one of the greatest honors of my life. The last message he sent me was “We have to work on a show together. Have to.” I so wish we had had one last show together. My heart breaks that we didn’t.
I was just thinking yesterday about how my birthday is coming up and I was so looking forward to his yearly birthday post on Facebook. It always came the day before, so it was always the first one I got and I looked forward to it every single year. I won’t get that post this year. I won’t get that love. But is it weird that I feel basked in his love right now? I feel even more looked after now then I did before.
I used to feel that grieving on social media and in a public way was unseemly. I now find it beautiful. We can’t hide or avoid the death or decline of our loved ones. It’s right there in the open for us to see. We are confronted with it. We are confronted with the pain and the loss, but we are also confronted with the love and the joy. We can CELEBRATE how one person can make an immeasurable impact on the world.
I feel so fucking lucky to have known that special SPECIAL man. FUCKING LUCKY. And I just hope that he’s proud of me. I just want to make him proud. He’s my fucking hero. He’s my Dumbledore. He’s my mentor. But mostly, he’s my friend. I promise to be an asshole and not a chickenshit Sheldon. I fucking promise. I owe it to you. I love you.