I thought we’d have more time together. Really, I thought the network would drag your storyline out for at least 3 more seasons before it came to this.
I was sitting at my dining room table the other morning, scrolling through my newsfeed while innocently eating my scrambled eggs, when I came across a clip of you seemingly surrounded by flames. It was then that I knew- you were leaving us. This Is Us would inevitably become This Was Us. I don’t feel ready.
Admittedly, I sobbed. Into my eggs, at nine in the morning, I lost it and it’s a little bit embarrassing because nothing really even happened in the clip. You were just being you, acting like the man I’ve grown to love more and more with each passing episode.
Jack, my mother has watched General Hospital for the last 30 years and I never really understood how she could be so invested in fictional characters. How she could pause the world for an hour every evening to hang out with “friends.” I didn’t get it until you showed up on my TV screen, with your mustache and slicked back hair. I think it was Pilgrim Rick… that was the point where I knew I would love you forever, that I would drop anything on a Tuesday night just to spend some time with you.
In all seriousness, I think you set a standard for us that I don’t think we ever expected. In our culture, it’s pretty typical to binge watch a lot of television yet rarely walk away changed, your mind reeling for days over something someone said or did. You’ve got a team of writers behind your words, Jack, but let me tell you: they gave you heart. They gave you spirit. They made you into someone who made us all think, “Now there’s a man who isn’t perfect but he sure knows how to show up for his people.” You had flaws, like all of us, but you never became them.
Dedication, Jack. That’s the spirit of who you are and who you’ve always been to me. You make us all want to be better friends, better spouses, better employees, better parents. You gave us an example of love that is both selfless and fierce, sacrificial and relentless. In a world that feels a little dark and crazy these days, you reminded us of the most basic tenets of a good life: investment in the family you’ve got. Hard work. A tenacious spirit. Speech that is kind. Love that serves without expectations. And great hair.
Because of you, I can look at my own flaws and confidently say, “They’re here. I see them. But I am not a bad person or a waste of space because of them. I’ll keep showing up. Messy and ready for whatever curveball life will throw at me next, I’ll keep showing up.”
You took risks every episode in the name of family- something we don’t stick up for enough in 2018. Like I said earlier, we weren’t expecting someone like you to come along. Like most unexpected people who show up in life, you don’t fully see realize the space they take up in your heart until you realize you’re going to lose them one day.
This is us, Jack. This is all of us.
Maybe it’s for the best that we say goodbye now. I’ve spent hundreds of dollars trying to figure you out in therapy sessions that are supposed to be about my own issues. It’s getting a little ridiculous that I can’t seem to process my own junk and yet the floodgates open up when my therapist says two words: Jack Pearson.
Because of you, I’ve learned I’m not as emotionally stable as I thought. I walk into a Tuesday night feeling like I might be killing it at life (or at least doing a decent job) and I walk out with no makeup left on my face, a throbbing headache from all the inhumane sobs released from my body in the span of an hour. I find myself grieving for something I didn’t know I even needed to grieve for: past family dogs, old relationships, lost shoes, failed diets. It all comes flooding back to me when you say words like, “You are my purpose, Kevin.”
I threw out my Crockpot. I’m comparing you to my husband too much. I found out it’s not as easy as I thought to walk into a hospital and take home a baby that is not mine. I’m thinking about making a dent in the homebuilding industry (in your honor, of course). I am a woman on a solo mission to find her own “Big Three.”
I honestly don’t know what we’ll do without you, Jack. But I promise to face my junk. I promise to face it and make you proud, Jack. I promise to always buy batteries. When Sunday comes, I’ll be there and I’ll be wearing my Steelers jersey just for you.
I’ll never let go, Jack. I’ll never let go.
Me & the rest of us.