By Kelly Mahan Jaramillo, Nov. 4th, 2007
I have been humbled. When I was young and had not experienced loss, I would throw out that platitude, all comforting instincts at full throttle.
“Well everything happens for a reason, you know. We just don’t know what it is yet. You’ll be okay.”
My intentions were earnest, my desire to say something helpful was sincere, but my experience was next to nil. I had blocked out my own trauma via self medicating, spending money, and digging personal drama, of which there was plenty in both family and friends.
I could never understand why my honest effort to show support to someone who had a loved one die, or who had gone through a serious illness or accident, was met with disdain, disgust, a glare, or a dismissive wave of the hand.
Fast forward to age thirty-two, when my husband died. It started sinking it that you had to go through it before you had the right to offer a platitude.
Fast forward to age forty-three, when I was happily driving home, and two blocks from my house I was nearly killed by a man on a cell phone who sped through a red light.
I was trying to tell myself that something good was going to come out of this, and wound up so angry and depressed that I often wished I had been killed by the moron.
At this point you are probably wondering what this has to do with composing or working with my husband. Hang in, we’re almost there.
Director Eileen Nelson and I had been friends and neighbors for years, back when I was married to Beau, my husband who died. We stayed friends, she was a wonderful friend, and we were so different that we never seemed to run out of topics to yak about. We were also both horribly depressed.
When Tomas and I got together, Eileen and he got along famously, and life was starting to feel like life again, not a year long numb-the-pain drinking and eating fest.
We both still lived in Venice, although Eileen had to move from her rental of thirteen years, and our wonderful landlady had died, and out of nowhere came the greedy daughter. Our stress collided, and we got into a huge fight, and did not speak for two years.
As fate would have it, her husband, American Dumpling producer Darrell Hanzalik, e-mailed me out of the blue, wondering if we were speaking, as he had heard through the old post production grapevine, specifically from sound supervisor Sandy Berman, that I had gotten into a brutal car accident. I wrote back, sending him pictures of my face, which was quite spectacular with fifty-odd stitches going diagonally down from above my right eye, to the bottom of my jaw, with off shoot gouges like little rivers covering my cheek. My car was totaled, I was bussing it. I had to go to physical therapy, and one time a woman looked at me and made the sign of the cross, kissed her fingers, then she stared fixedly out the window, either in horror or repulsion, maybe compassion to not stare, who knows. Another time a small child looked at me and started to cry. So you get the picture.
Eileen IMMEDIATELY e-mailed, we apologized all over each other, got caught up, and in those two years we were apart she had major back surgery, was in pain and depression, but the only thing that kept her going was her film American Dumpling.
Is there something bigger going on? Is it just coincidence? I mean my oldest friend of twenty-five years never once asked how I was doing after she saw the pictures, quite a few people I had considered good friends dropped off the face of the earth, for reasons I am tired of trying to figure out. Perhaps I had poor taste in friends when I was young and thought I was untouched by life. Perhaps they did not want to be that close to trauma. Who knows?
The point is, Eileen and I re-connected, I got a good friend back, whom I had missed terribly, and now we have Tomas scoring American Dumpling.
We are so in love with this film, and Eileen and Darrell are so in love with the score – – it would not have come about if I had not been in the wrong place, at the wrong time.
That is a fact.
So, when I am complaining to high heaven that I want my old life back, no facial scar, no permanent limp, no 24/7 back and neck pain, I have to remember, that if I did have it back, we would not have American Dumpling.
I am still in pain and angry, but yes, I have been humbled by experiencing that everything happens for a reason.
DAMN!!! How dare fate take away my bitching and moaning and feeling sorry for myself?
And Tomas’s small group of friends, his best friend Doug Lee, whom I have met once and yet he asks how I am doing every time he calls, Tomas’s long time friend and music mixer Bob Gremore, Bob’s wife Margaret, and Byron Greco.
You all were, and are, beyond words.
I would like to expound on the friendship issue, so am going to pop over to my blog What Happened?! You are welcome to come along.