Friday, February 1, 2013
Hello, lovely readers. My name is Kelley Lynn, and this is my very first week as a writer for Widow's Voice. I became a widow 19 months ago, when I was 39 years old, just shy of our 5-year wedding anniversary. My husband, a paramedic, died of a massive heart-attack at age 46. Never had a symptom in his life. Since his sudden and shocking death, I've been trying to put the pieces of my own life back together again, and figure out how to really be alive instead of just exist. I cope through humor, friends, and helping others get through this burning fire that we now call life.
I'm a stand-up comedian, actor, and writer. Instead of using this first blog to tell you more about me and my background, I figured a fun and creative way to do that would be to pull a piece from my personal grief blog and re-work it for here. I'm in the midst of writing a book about what it's really like to lose your husband, and the harsh truths about grief. A couple of weeks ago, I started to imagine what it might be like if I were to present my book idea or script to a producer. What if my story were made into a film one day? How might that play out in the world of pretentious Hollywood?
The fact is, almost nothing about this “journey” (including the fact that people refer to it as a “journey”) is ever portrayed how it actually is. What you see on TV shows, in films, even in grief books – is mostly a plastic, shallow, often-times glamorized version of widowhood; as if losing your spouse in the prime of your young life is somehow romantic or whimsical. A fun, adventurous journey! Pack your suitcase!
In films, the widowed people who are left behind are always gorgeous and perfect-looking. And they always find love again, almost immediately. They maybe have one big emotional breakdown, perhaps after the funeral, maybe sobbing while sliding their body down a wall in slow-motion or looking out a window pensively. They always have children. Always. And the children are adorable and not at all bratty or a pain in the ass or affected by the tremendous loss, other than to say perfectly -timed, cute dialogue like: “Is mommy in heaven, daddy?” Cue the sappy music. I have a feeling that my "book-to-film" experience might not go quite as smoothly as I may wish. Here is the nightmare I have imagined inside my head:
Producer: We love your script. A beautiful story about the sudden loss of your husband, and how you are living your life since. We are very interested in producing it for HBO ……
Producer: We just need to make a few changes. Tiny changes….
Me: Changes? Like what kinds of changes?
Producer: Like the way he died. Massive heart-attack? Too boring. We were thinking of a tragic fire, or maybe he was shot.
Me: Shot? Why would he be shot?
Producer: He was shot by his partner. While on-duty. He was a cop.
Me: A cop? But my husband was an E.M.T.
Producer: Yeah, right … about that. Nobody really cares about E.M.T’s. Firefighters and cops are much more sexy. Now let’s discuss casting. Did you have anyone in mind to play the part of you?
Me: Yes. ME. I would like to play the part of me.
Producer: Oh no, that won’t work at all.
Me: It won’t work for me to play the role of me?
Producer: No, no, no. You’re too old.
Me: How can I be “too old” to play ME? I am MY age!
Producer: Yes, but we were thinking maybe someone younger. Nobody wants to hear about a woman in her 40′s. Besides – you’re too fat. We can’t make a film about a Fat Widow. Nobody will care about you if you’re fat.
Me: Wow. Harsh. Okay, so Im too old to play myself and too fat to play myself. Who did you have in mind to play me, instead of me?
Producer: We were thinking along the lines of maybe an Amy Adams or a Megan Fox.
Me: But those actors look nothing at all like me!
Producers: Exactly. We would also like to switch out your 2 cats for 2 children. People generally hate cats, and let’s be honest: nobody cares about a childless, fat widow. We need to give the story a couple of kids. Something that will tear at the heartstrings.
Me: But that isnt MY story! We didn’t get to have our family. He died too soon. THAT’S the story that tears at the heartstrings! That he never got to be a dad. I will never be a mom. The truth!
Producers: Yeah, nobody gives a crap about that. Last few things - we need a great chase scene. And we would like Sally Field to play your overly-emotional mother who cries a lot. There should also be flashback scenes with your husband. We would like David Spade for that role. Or Larry the Cable Guy. We need explosions. A bank robbery. A gas leak. Maybe someone like Samuel Jackson tries to kidnap your children? And we want some sort of conflict between your husband and someone else at work. Maybe his partner was jealous because Don got the promotion over him, or maybe Don was cheating on you with his partner's wife, so he shot him to death.
Me: WHAT??? No! Don would never do that to me. He loved me. This is a love story! You are stripping away every single thing that is good about us. This is no longer our story at all. Is there ANYTHING that you plan on keeping from my original script? Anything?
Producers: Yes, of course. You would still be widowed. Also, we are not totally sold on the Megan Fox thing. We may go with a more “urban” cast, in which case, the role of you would be played by that huge chick from “Precious.”
Me: Seriously? Precious can play me but I cant play me? She is waaay bigger than I am!
Producers: True, but fat and black is “sassy.” Fat and white is disgusting.
Me: Okay, I’m done with this insane conversation now. Clearly you people have absolutely no clue how to take a very real and beautiful story and birth it into a film. Even though I’m afraid to ask, my curiousity must know. What is the name of this urban-trainwreck that you call a movie?
Producers: “Phat Widow.” Get it? Phat? It has double-meaning, because, well ... you're fat.
Me: Yes, thank you for telling me. I wasn't aware of my own size. Okay, well this was a big epic-fail. Excuse me while I go home and hit myself repeatedly over the head with a 2 by 4. Good day.
And that, dear readers, is the truth. We need a lot more truth out there in the world when it comes to death and grief, which is the reason I continue to write. Truth promotes truth, and it all starts with someone like me – just a fat (or "phat") widow, who is not interested in lying about who she actually is, and who just wants to tell her story, and the story of her wonderful, dead husband. Until next time, thank you so much for reading.