Goodbye My Friends: Letting “The Office” Go

After “Seinfeld” ended, I sorta quit watching television.  And I mean that for a few years I occasionally watched “Friends” or “Frasier” and for a whole two years somewhere in there, the most tv I watched was “Teletubbies” and “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” when my then-boyfriend-now-husband and I would hang out early in the morning after we were finished with our night shift jobs.  If you know me now, it’s probably hard for you to imagine that there was ever a time when I wasn’t “obsessed with” or “addicted to” a television program (to use my husband’s kind words).  But I always think that my happiness is directly correlated to the number of tv shows I’m currently enjoying.  These tv-less years were some of the worst ones of my life.

And then in 2005 I saw the previews for a new comedy on NBC.  It was called “The Office” and it looked like something I might like.  Something that might bring me back to enjoying television.  Something that I could watch and laugh at while I was nursing my baby as I propped up my very swollen legs on my very pregnant body.  I remember looking forward so very much to that premiere.  I remember watching it live that night and falling completely in love with the characters.  I was sold.  And I loved tv again.

Just a few short months into the first season, my mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer and I gave birth to my second child.  It was the darkest few months of my life and I swear that without Thursday nights and “The Office”, I’m not sure I would have made it.  I know that sounds ludicrous but it felt very real at the time.  I was hurling down a dark hole and for half an hour each Thursday night I would get to take a short break from the hell I was living in.

I emailed one of the cast members on MySpace and told her that my days were tough but that on Thursday nights, her show gave me a reprieve from my pain.  I thanked her.  She responded that, “This too shall pass” and that she appreciated my reaching out to her.  She sent me a few links to YouTube videos to cheer me up.  I cried.

I never stopped watching.  I watched with my husband every week until my son was diagnosed with leukemia and we no longer lived together.  He stopped watching with me and I kept watching alone in order to maintain my sanity.  He resented me for it.  What he didn’t understand is that “The Office” was the one thing that kept me sane.

I remember Christmas of 2010 when my son and I spent our day in the hospital after his bone marrow transplant, comforting ourselves by watching every Christmas episode of “The Office” there was.  At some point he announced that when it was time for him to make his wish with the wish-granting organization it was going to be for me to be able to meet the cast and visit the set of “The Office”.  I shared his sweetness on Facebook and my friend Katie and her dad made this happen:

An Autograph from Creed Bratton that made our whole week.

An Autograph from Creed Bratton that made our whole week.

I have cried as I’ve had to say goodbye to Michael Scott.  I have cried as I have watched Pam and Jim fall in love, get married, have their first baby, and then fall completely apart because that is what happens in a marriage.  They just fall apart.  I have cried as I’ve watched Dwight finally named manager.  And today I cry because two days from now will be the series finale and I’m. Not. Ready.

No, the show hasn’t remained the same.  Or even as good as it always was.  But it was still there.  Consistent.  Never failing.  Through the years that “The Office” has been on the air, I have watched my mother die, my children be born, my oldest son battle cancer, and my marriage nearly end.  But no matter how hard things were, my favorite tv show was always there.  It has been a comfort in ways that I can never describe.

This isn’t just the end of a television show.  It’s the end of an era.  And now, as I prepare myself to be completely incapacitated after watching the series finale, I must learn to accept that this is a new era.  An era defined by older kids, homeschooling, running a business, and watching “Community”, “Doctor Who” and “Parks and Recreation”.  But be assured, “The Office” will remain in our Netflix queue in constant rotation from now until the end of television, which, God-willing, will never happen.

To the cast, writers, producers of “The Office”:

Thanks for all of the laughter, all of the tears, and for the constancy.

You will be missed.  Looking forward to seeing what comes next for each of you.

Goodbye my friends.

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