I’m angry. I don’t want to be but the more I reflect, the unhappier I am with how the last episode of How I Met Your Mother completely failed me AND the rest of the widowed community.
[SPOLIER ALERT] How I Met Your Mother is a TV sitcom built on the premise of a goofy guy (Ted) telling his teenage kids sappy-corny stories about how he met their mother. Buried in those archives are touching moments I’ve replayed over and over as expressions of love and devotion exactly how I think love should be. In the lives of Lily, Marshal, Ted, Zoey, Robin and (finally) Tracy, I saw moments of Maggie and my relationship played out over and over. By the way, when we first meet Tracy, she’s just become a widow. [Seriously, this is a SPOILER!] Last weekend, in the final episode, after 10 years of build up, Ted and Tracy meet, fall in wonderful love, have kids and then Tracy becomes ill and dies.
[Ok, I give up. This whole post is a spoiler.]
Ten years I watched Ted search for love. My heat sang when I watched how he and Tracy bantered in much the same ways Maggie and I used to. They exemplified a simple, honest happiness, just the way we liked it. It should have been love ever after.
Sadly, it wasn’t. Tracy, his new wife and mother of his children became inexplicably ill and eventually died. Surprisingly, that’s not what cracked my teapot. What’s upsetting is how dismissive the writers were with regard to Tracy’s illness and eventual death. On the emotional scale of life, as we here all know, losing a spouse is a big damn deal. Tracy and Ted were in giggly love, building their lives and then, in two blinks, she was gone. Yet, of the hour-long finale, less than 8 seconds were dedicated to showing her in a hospital bed. None were dedicated to her getting really sick or Ted’s unfailing devotion and support (which I know he provided because that’s just what he’d do.) And zero (that’s 0.00) seconds were dedicated to Ted’s incredible grief. Hollywood failed. Completely. Instead of taking us all on an authentic and difficult ride of elation, shock and deep sadness followed by years of rebuilding, death and the entry into widowhood was treated like a minor speed bump on the way to true happiness. All that was and could have been was brushed aside as nearly an afterthought. And that makes me sad.
I will have another dream-come-true relationship, one like Ted and Tracy had. She’ll be the yin to my yang and she’ll laugh at my corny jokes and find my sarcasm entertaining. I’ll love her quirky nature and look forward to seeing what makes her unique. But she’ll also know that there was a major upheaval that brought us together, that there was another path I was on, a path I had no intention of leaving. She’ll know that when we, Maggie and me, were knocked off that path, it took me many years just to get my feet underneath me again. That path, the upheaval, and my learning to walk again is big chunk of who I am. Only by understanding and accepting each piece of that journey will it be possible for us to join together and start our own. Hollywood be damned. There will be no glossing over here.
It’s funny. Tracy (Ted’s wife) would have totally understood and been supportive had Ted been widowed. After all, she lost her husband just a short while before meeting Ted. Why does TV have to sell such a rich experience so short?