Sometime in the midst of my never-ending game of catch-up studying, my friends managed to snag free tickets to the Stephen Colbert show. They were careful not to bring up too many events that they'd managed to go to together so as not to make me feel like I'd missed a lot while I'd been gone. Also, knowing that I'd be swamped with work, they made light of any upcoming events in case I wouldn't be able to make it. I thought it would be good to finally take a night off to just breathe and seeing Stephen Colbert live seemed like the perfect opportunity.
On the train, one of my friends asked me how I'd been. It was too big a question to answer, so I just focused on talking about how catching up with schoolwork was going. Also, I wasn't going to spill all the details of the services we held for my dad on the New York subway. It just felt weird. I forget what we chatted about as we waited for admission, but I said something along the lines of "my parents do that too!" I paused. Was that a true line anymore? Technically, my dad died. Would the correct phrase have been just that my mom does it too? Not that anyone probably thought that closely about the veracity of my statement.
At last, a couple workers ushered us into the unusually chilly studio and we excitedly went down the side aisle. Several workers barked at people to turn off and put away their phones. Who wasn't going to try to sneak a picture of the studio? I sat and chatted with my friend as we waited for the show to start. After some time, a crowd warmer came out to get us to cheer, laugh and clap. Finally, we were able to sit down again.
Then, Stephen Colbert emerged! Before the show even started. He came out to talk to the crowd and thank us for coming. He asked us if we had any questions and answered some raised hands. Someone asked about one of the most surprising or impactful interviews that he ever did. Colbert explained that he interviewed someone who was able to tell him stories about his father, and the kicker was that Colbert had no idea that the man knew his dad. Colbert didn't have very many memories of his dad-- his dad had died, along with 2 of his brothers, when he was just 10 years old. I had forgotten, although reflecting now, Rachel had sent me a video of Colbert talking about grief with Anderson Cooper just a bit beforehand.
Nonetheless, it seemed like I was in the right place that evening. How was it possible that with everything going on, I had ended up in a studio listening to a talk show host who'd also experienced the grief of losing his dad? Encountering someone else with the same pain in the vast city of cold New York in November seemed like a chance encounter. But maybe it was just that I was now joining a new group-- a big group of people who'd lost their dads too soon.