“The Quarterback” – a tribute

The Quarterback
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I had every intention of watching “The Quarterback”, Glee‘s tribute to Cory Monteith, last night. Of course, life got in the way but fortunately we now have a semi-functional DVR (as in, it only works when our U-Verse signal isn’t cutting out for completely unknown reasons *dagger eyes at you, AT&T…*), so I snuggled up with the little this morning and turned on the show.

This is not an official review of the episode. I told Glee after Season 2 that we needed to see other people, and up to this point I have only gone back to McKinley High School one time – for Season 3’s graduation finale. This renders me, I believe, wholly unqualified to evaluate this or any other episode in the greater context of Glee as a television show. No, this is merely the reaction of one former Gleek who never stopped believing in the original cast she came to love.

The song selection was absolutely perfect. “Seasons of Love”, staged exactly as it was in the opening reels of RENT on film, reduced me to sobs even before Mercedes took on the amazing solo (get it girl, for real). From there, I pretty much spent the entire episode with tears running down my face. I had to pause when my mom showed up to pick the little up, and when she looked at me funny I just pointed to the TV. Same deal with Brian, who had the perfect (poor?) timing of walking downstairs as Rachel was finishing up her heart-wrenching rendition of Adele’s version of “Make You Feel My Love”. (I don’t think I will ever hear or sing that song again without welling up.)

I cried for Finn, the quarterback turned Gleek who I was always so genuine and kind, clumsy and endearing. It’s difficult to imagine that anybody who saw more than ten minutes of any episode would fail to just love him – perhaps not “fall in love” by means of a crush, but just a deep and sweet love that is so fitting for such a character. I also cried for the emotion, the palpable sadness from friends who came back to remember him the best way they could (on camera, anyway), through the glee club that brought them together.

Every character’s personal mourning process spoke to their unique relationships with Finn, and how he affected their attitudes and perceptions of themselves. While each was as moving as it was authentic, two in particular stood out for me and even now make new tears prick my eyes.

Rachel – It was a double heartbreak to see Rachel come back and commemorate the love of her life. When “The Quarterback” first started with Kurt preparing to leave for Lima, I wondered to what extent they would limit her participation in the episode and ultimately I think it was perfect. “Make You Feel My Love” was quiet and beautiful, far beyond the amazing talent we all know Lea Michele possesses. It physically ached to watch because to look at her face as she is singing is to realize that you are not only watching Rachel pay tribute to her on-screen love, but you are also watching Lea say goodbye to her real-life love. To be honest, I thought of how it would feel to have my “person” taken away and to have our dream of a life together just…end…and everything in my heart went out to her. I bet when people ask how she’s doing for real, her answer is much the same as her line: “I don’t know.”

Carole – Parenthood brings with it a new appreciation for the fragility of life, and watching any parent – even a fictional one – attempt to process the sudden loss of a child is excruciating to bear. It calls to mind all of the possibilities that one could “still be a parent, but [not] get to have a child”. Her words echoed my deepest thoughts and fears, feelings I never had before finding out a year ago on Sunday that I would become a parent. Now…well, I’m just glad that I had the little to hold on to during her outpouring of grief. And I hope that I never have to learn how it feels to wake up in the morning and forget for the briefest instant before the memory of that soul-crushing loss comes rushing back.

It’s a bad idea to watch something as moving as this before you have to leave for work, but that’s beside the point.

Cory Monteith was loved greatly, by many around him and by many others who only ever knew him as Finn. It is tragic and terribly sad that his life was cut short by addiction, yet in the aftermath it warms my heart to know that millions have gathered in spirit to remember someone who touched their lives in whatever way he did. We should all be so fortunate to have such loving people around us, and “The Quarterback” is also a reminder to be loving and grateful to those people now – to say what needs to be said – and to cherish them for the time we have together.