To say it’s been a long week is an understatement. While I haven’t been as grief-stricken as those closer to the tragedy are, there’s been this undercurrent of sadness to everything this week. Every light moment has come with a lingering, “Should I be laughing?” No doubt we should live our lives and not let fear guide us, but it’s been hard not to think some level of solemnity was appropriate.
Tonight, though, felt like something of a corner has been turned, at least for me. I got two doses of cure that make it feel all right to let go of that sadness.
First, I saw a preview screening of Steven Spielberg’s The BFG. My favorite filmmaker of all time offering up as uncynical a slice of whimsy and wonder as you could hope for after the week we’ve had. There are no dark twists, no winking undertones, just a full-on fairy tale told by a master storyteller and filled with amazing imagery. Plus the lead performance by Mark Rylance is mesmerizing; it’s more than just a voice-over, he completely inhabits the BFG with a warmth and gentleness that felt like a hug. It’s not on the level of a masterpiece like E.T., but it’s another late-career winner for Spielberg, and, what’s more, put a smile on my face and in my heart when both places sorely craved one.
Then, leaving the movie, I noted the time and realized I could probably make the remembrance ceremony Universal was holding this evening. We’d lost six current and former team members Sunday morning, and the entire NBC Comcast organization has been hugely supporting of both the parks and the city. Tonight was a way for our team members to come together and just let out the emotions we’d been holding in to make our guests happy for the last five days. I could have simply watched the simulcast from home, or watched a replay later, but seeing that I had the chance to make it, I felt like I had to. I needed the reminder of why The BFG had been such a salve. And I wanted to be able to say I was there, that I’d stood and remembered and honored.
It was a very classy and poignant ceremony. Even when some technical issues popped up and we were unable to hear some speeches from Hollywood, there was no jeering, no grumbling, just respectful silence for what we knew were behind those unhearable words. People even applauded when there was an obvious pause, which may have been one of the most touching displays of the evening. We didn’t need to know what was said to appreciate the intent.
All in all, it was a good Thursday. It won’t wash away everything that’s happened this week, but no single day is going to do that. What today did was just the beginning. But it feels good to know it’s begun.