As I’ve told numerous people over the years, Lisa and I had our first date on a Thursday. May 4, 1995 to be precise. Most couples that I know don’t make that big a deal out of the anniversary of their first date but for Lisa and I, it was always special. Mostly because over the course of 23 years, she never let me forget what she gave up to go on that first date with me.
Lisa loved to watch television and in 1995 there was no better night to curl up on a couch and watch than Thursdays. The night started with Friends, followed by Seinfeld and then was capped off with ER. She loved to watch ER. At first I’m pretty sure it had to do with George Clooney but eventually the stories and characters are what really captivated her and kept Lisa coming back week after week.
And much like Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory, once Lisa committed to a show, that was it. She didn’t miss and episode under any circumstances. She would watch for years even if the show became borderline unwatchable. We watched a train wreck of a show called Providence for years before she finally agreed to give up on it.
So Lisa agreeing to miss ER so she could go out to dinner with me was huge. And since she had no clue how to work her VCR, taping the show wasn’t an option. This was decades before DVRs and On Demand, so when you missed a show you wanted to see, that was it until the network reran it over the summer.
This was toward the end of ER‘s first season and the episode she missed was titled “Love Among the Ruins.” During dinner she even mentioned a handful of times that she hoped we got back to her apartment early enough so she could catch the last few minutes.
Yeah, not exactly a confidence builder for our hero here.
That being said, I must have done something right because even though we did get back early and the show was on, Lisa didn’t really pay attention to anything that was going on. We ended up talking the rest of the night and she didn’t seem that interested in the show.
Of course, that didn’t stop her from reminding me every Thursday that she missed an episode of ER to go on a date with me. And remind me she did because the following week, I became a part of her Thursday night television watching ritual. We would throw pillows and blankets on the floor and watch TV all night, culminating in ER at ten o’clock.
We did that for the next 15 years until ER went off the air on April 2, 2009, two days before Lisa’s birthday. That final episode marked the end of an era not just for television but for us as well. The following month Lisa would have a heart attack and shortly thereafter, the symptoms of the Alzheimer’s Disease that would eventually kill her started to make themselves known.
That may be why I haven’t watched ER since that final episode all those years ago. Too many happy memories tied up in a show we both loved to watch.
Flash forward to last week. An obscene amount of my time is taken up each evening watching YouTube. Regular television is for the most part garbage so I entertain myself watching old music videos, clips form Marvel movies and human interest news stories. It helps me to relax and de-stress after a day of dealing with the crap that is my life.
While diving headfirst into a YouTube rabbit hole I discovered that they had begun uploading official clips of ER to the site. Everything from the opening titles to the very first scene to the very last scene. Some of these I hadn’t watched since they were on originally so out of curiosity I clicked a video, sat back and watched. It was a clip from the third season where Mark was brutally attached and was later found by Doug.
I was fine until the theme music began to play. All of a sudden I was overcome with emotion and before I knew it I was sobbing uncontrollably. I hadn’t cried like that thinking about Lisa in over a year. I really thought those days were behind me.
I was very wrong.
And it wasn’t just that one instance. I’ve now watched dozens of the clips and each and every time I get a lump in my throat as I think about Lisa. All those nights laying on her floor or later on our couch watching that show. Talking about what characters we liked, the ones we didn’t (Don’t get us started on Dr. Romano.) and what we thought was going to happen next week.
I honestly didn’t realize how big a part of our lives ER was until I watched those clips and really thought about it. It was something we both really looked forward to every week, no matter how bad things were. It was an hour we could forget about the world’s problems and get lost in the lives of the doctors of County General Hospital.
It was something that I think I subconsciously put away and didn’t want to think about. That is, until it was put in front of my face again. Now I’m tempted to watch the entire series from the beginning. Sure, there will be lots of tears but I’m sure that eventually they will be replaced by smiles and happy thoughts of Lisa.
Lord knows I could more of those right now.