We all knew it was coming, but I didn’t expect it to be during this episode. It caught me off guard and I was unprepared for the emotions since I was really thinking Randall and William would have at least this last episode together as they revisited William’s past. But no. Just like Randall, I was surprised and shocked when William took a turn for the worse. I was so conflicted—he didn’t make it back home to die, and yet…he very clearly made it home back to Memphis, and on a greater view…he made it home. After a life of pain, struggle, and, as he says himself, a life of misfortune and bad choices—he was finally released from all the darkness and he is light and free. I’m glad for it, and yet my heart ached. I cried. (Ok, fine, I sobbed.)
I normally have thoughts swirling through my mind after each episode. I had anticipated spending this week writing about Randall and William’s journey together. I imagined something so different from this episode. Though I was not disappointed, I felt numb.
After last night’s episode, Sterling K Brown, who plays Randall, went to his Facebook account. On it, he stated, “I want you to feel. I want you to feel connected and recognize that we are all in this together, ya know? And that no man or woman is an island unto themselves. And if you have family that you haven’t talked to in a while, or friends you feel you’ve gotten out of touch with, then call them up and let them know how much you love them and how much you care –because tomorrow is not promised.”
And with tears streaming down his face, he shares his heart as he explains how grateful he is to be working with this cast and on this show. He said,“It’s one thing to entertain, to educate, but to edify and to lift people up? Ya know that…well, to God be the glory.”
Watching him with tears streaming down his face, and listening to what he said, I realized that this show isn’t just about the incredible writing and how each story is crafted so beautifully. It’s because these actors and actresses are really good people trying to connect with each of us. And so, as an audience, we feel that. Their stories become personal. I think a show like this is rare and in some way, it’s a gift to the audience…to us. I know I’ve not just watched this show, but I’ve thought about my relationships with people as I’ve looked inside the character’s lives. I’ve reevaluated some choices and decisions. I’ve made commitments to be better and kinder. I have never had a show do that to me before – or at least quite like this.
In death, our connections are not broken. In some ways, I believe they are strengthened.
William’s death was entirely about connection. It’s funny. I think we often think of death as a loss of connection. That person is no longer around to share with us daily moments. However, it is in death that we often remember the best in people. And there was so much greatness in William to remember. No doubt that greatness is in Randall too. (Who else is mad in love with Randall?) In William’s death we saw a deeper and greater connection between father and son. We saw connection between father and son. How beautiful was it that William wanted to pay his respects to Jack? I loved that moment. I loved that he told Randall that he wanted to meet Randall’s father. As an adoptive mom, that sentence alone made me well up with tears. In his death we saw and understood the connection with William’s cousin – a connection once strong, then faded, and then artistically connected once more. We felt Randall’s joy as he connected with new extended family, and felt William’s joy and he facilitated that connection. Again, we witnessed a very spiritual connection with Randall, William, and Jack during William’s final fearful moments…when Randall channeled Jack and eased William’s fears. When William finally passed, even the ducks that crossed the street…connection.
In death, our connections are not broken. In some ways, I believe they are strengthened. I love William and really wanted him to stay for another season. A selfish part of me really wanted this story to be different. And yet, in his death I have found a beauty that may not have been there otherwise. His story needed to be this story. Because this is us. We each have little control of the physical outcomes of our life. We do, however, have control over how we treat others and how our lives are woven together with those we love. Do we keep those threads tight and create a beautiful masterpiece of love and light? Or do we allow painful circumstances to unravel that tapestry, losing touch and connection with life’s greatest treasures?
I suppose I had a lot to say about this episode after all. Sterling K. Brown’s hope for the show was “that we feel connected and recognize that we are all in this together.” I guess it’s safe to say, at least for me, that I feel it. I see the connection and I absolutely feel it. I will miss William dearly. He brought wisdom and heart to the show. But his story and his character are deeply connected to the show as a whole…forever.