Sunday, August 27, 2006

My stomach feels heavy...

I like writing. I love the way I can take words and make endless combinations of nouns and verbs to communicate something. I love punctuation and structure and turns of phrase. But I do not--DO NOT--want to write any more eulogies, okay, people?

I went to a memorial service for a theatre friend this morning. I just saw him last Friday when he came to a performance of Pippin. This Thursday he was found on a trail in Marysville with a self-inflicted gun shot wound to the head. I don't know what to ask or say...I mean, "Why?" immediately comes to mind, but there's also the fear of getting answers to my questions. Maybe the one thing that made Charles give up on life will be the one thing that scares me enough to do the same. I don't know...maybe it was simpler than that, like what my friend Tim said, that maybe Charles' sweet spirit wasn't made for the hardness of this life. Either way, there is a heaviness in my middle, like a black disk, and it's pushing, pushing down on any happy thought that peeks it's head out.

Sort of like a slow motion version of the Chuck E. Cheese game "Whack-a-Mole", only a lot less cheerful...and no tickets to buy cheap, shitty toys at the counter on your way out.

So hopefully today, this will be my last eulogy for awhile...

The first time I saw Charles Bedouin was at an audition for "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" and my first thought was, "Whoa, Jon Lovitz does community theatre!" Charles was so much more cheerful than Jon, however, and every part he read over the next few days had heart and humor. He was eventually cast as the lovable Dr. Spivey...though I'm not sure the script called for Spivey to be lovable, Charles just made him that way, and inspired a very real rapport among the actors who played his patients.

I spent a lot of time with Charles backstage, and one thing I noticed about him was that he always had this little smile around the corners of his mouth that made it seem as though he was the only one hearing the punchline to a very clever joke. And while the rest of us certainly weren't the butt of the joke, we were definitely a part of it. Charles loved silly turns of phrase, putting emphasis at the completely wrong point in the sentence. He would routinely ask, "How are.........YOU?" with a tinge of Scooby Doo in the "you" and loved when you would come up with a phrase of your own to do the same to. He often would say something humorless or inane, and find it hilarious and start laughing with this Santa Claus-like guffaw (and in a way, he was a bit like a dark-skinned Santa, sans white beard and bag of toys, but full of mirth and the desire to make people happy) and then you had to laugh, because whatever joke Charles was a part of, you wanted to be a part of too.

I don't know what made my friend of such a short time decide that life was too much, but I know that if it was something he couldn't find the humor in anymore, it must have been pretty bad. I can't help but feel the joke's on us for only having known him for a few months. But I can take happiness in knowing that every memory I have of him is one of him smiling, or about to smile or thinking of a way to make someone else smile, and that's a rare thing to find in a person these days.

So, here's to Charles...thank you for happy memories, and for reminding me, even now through my tears, to smile.

4 comments:

sgg said...

Thank you for that Sarah. I too will remember to smile.

KL said...

Amen.

Eric said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Eric said...

You made me cry. Beautifully written.

I knew Charles not very well at all, even less than many of you from Cuckoo's Nest, but I'll always remember that every night during the run of that show he took the time to say "hello" to me. A simple act, but it meant a lot.

I hope that wherever he is, he's free of what haunted him here.