Lisa R. and I went to see a show called "Stories Left to Tell," which was a celebration of Spalding Gray's life and works put together by his wife. Various writers/performers/singers read selections from Gray's works, including his diary entries after the devastating car crash that destroyed his body and his already fragile mental health. The stories spiralled downward, leading to his last journal entry, left for his wife and family, before he committed suicide. There wasn't a dry eye in the house when the theater went dark. The lights came back up, and the show ended wonderfully though. One of the performers read a piece from this book about a fun evening in the house, with Spalding, his wife, and their children dancing to Chumbawumba in the living room. The performer turned on a boom box and played the song, while in the background there was a screen with a video of Gray on stage demonstrating the wild leaps and turns his kids were doing. That's when I truly lost it and started sobbing. I now can't listen to "Tubthumping" without bursting into tears, mourning the loss of such an original voice.
What makes me even sadder, though, is that his three kids don't have a dad. Ever since I had kids, even hearing about kids who have lost a parent can push me over the edge into a crying jag. I don't know why, but it does. So now I tend to avoid news that might include stories of that nature. Gray's youngest son, the baby in the picture on the cover of the book, was at the show, and Lisa and I got to meet him. I just wanted to hug him, but instead I muttered something foolish about how nice it was to meet him. I was dumbstruck by a 10-year-old because I was afraid I'd start crying all over him.
Lisa bought this book before the show and loaned it to me when she finished. It took me a while to read it, because I was afraid it would be sad, and at that time I couldn't handle any more sadness in my life. Instead, it is just a wonderful account of a man who came to fatherhood late in life but then embraced it with all he was worth. Every child should be so lucky to have a love story written to them in this way. They will be able to read this book and know just how much they meant to their father.
I need to give the book back to Lisa, because one of my pet peeves is when people don't return books I loan them and I don't want to be guilty of committing the same sin, but I've held onto it because I flip through and read sections here and there at random times. It makes me smile. I suppose I should just go out and buy my own copy, but given that she bought this one from Gray's son, the book holds more meaning for me. Hmmm. Perhaps I should I buy another copy and give that one to Lisa. She'll never know the difference. And since I know she doesn't read my blog, despite repeated reminders to do so . . . I won't have given up the secret.