Sherry: It’s All About Love

I think about him all the time. I see something or hear something or my mind will just drift and it’s a full-blown movie in my head. I still can’t believe he’s gone. His essence, his presence is so powerful that it saturated my world – and I dare say, that of so many others.

I have so many exquisite and hilarious memories of our life together: our joyous life together, but nowadays I have trouble separating my sad and anguished memories of his last days with the precious, wonderful memories of our past.

Philip made me smile every day we were together, even more than that: he made me laugh…not just any ole laugh, but a belly grabbing full-throated guffaw. His wit was unsurpassed; the quickness of his mind was awe-inspiring.

I remember the early days when I’d spend hours primping to be as perfect as I could be just to be undone moments after walking through his front door. We spent the first five years in a torrid, whirlwind of passion. We talked and touched and learned every little thing about one another.

We shared our dreams, our wishes, our regretful pasts, the mistakes we made along the way and the joy and good fortune of finding one another…and in all the most unlikely of places: a rehab hospital. (Not the addiction kind of rehab, but the kind that puts bodies back to form.)

He was recovering from a drunk driver slamming into his car as he waited for a red light to turn green. He was catapulted over the driver’s seat leaving him dangling over the back of his chair: his upper body tossed to the back, his legs and torso hanging in the front. He felt his legs tingle and then nothing and he knew in that instant that he’d never walk again. I was recovering from an allergic reaction to an antibiotic. It was kismet. We were destined to meet and meet just as we did.
I heard about him first: “a sit-down comedian in search of a standup audience”.

He made me laugh even before I knew him. Our first “date” was while we were both patients in the hospital. We agreed to meet by the 2nd floor elevator banks. He was late so I smiled inwardly imagining he was spending some extra time getting spiffy for me. He showed up in a pair of paisley pajama pants the kind with snaps for a fly and a tee shirt! I laughed, but the truth is I didn’t care. I only knew I wanted to be with him and I wanted to know him.

We learned that while he attended the famous Neighborhood Playhouse at 53rd and Lexington in New York I was working on the corner of 53rd and Lexington! We must have passed one another on the street; it just wasn’t our time to meet. But when we did we both knew immediately that there was something special between us.

He took me on an imaginary walk in Washington Square Park and bought me a bunch of violets. I kissed his hand. It was our first kiss. We went to a deli and my adorable Italian beau loved all the same Jewish foods I grew up with and missed so much. We had a table full of tastes. Decadent, wonderful food: chopped liver with onions, pastrami and corned beef sandwiches, knishes, pickles, even pickled herring! It was wonderful and orgasmic and pure fun. I remember laughing a lot.

I remember an angry young man (we were all young then) that became a paraplegic from a tobogganing accident. He was nasty and ugly to everyone, especially his family. One day Philip asked him to come with him and he took him to the pediatric floor. He looked at the children and told the angry roommate that these children will never go tobogganing, or go to their prom or spin their girlfriend on the dance floor. He told him it was time he let go of his anger or it would destroy him and everyone around him.

I fell in love with his spirit, his passion and his caring heart. He gave one hundred percent of himself to whomever he was sharing time with; he listened fully and contributed wisely, but he never ever offered anything that wasn’t asked of him. He never intruded in anyone’s personal beliefs; he never tried to persuade someone to view the world or circumstances differently. He was a unique and amazing man.

I can’t imagine ever finding anyone in this world to match his grace, his beauty, his spirit, his love of life, his amazing insights and visions for the greater good…he wanted to achieve so much and he left so much undone. It breaks my heart.
Nine days before he died he told me that he couldn’t stop staring at me that he wanted to fill his eyes with the vision of me! Oh my God, how does anyone ever come close to that love again? In our life together, he gave me everything I ever wanted.

One year, when we were feeling excellently secure, he went through all the catalogs I had ever marked with “things” I wished for and that Christmas he bought me everything. When he couldn’t decide on the length of pearls he bought me three strands of differing lengths, he bought small studs, larger studs and dangling pearl earrings! He wanted to give me everything.

And yet, what he missed was twirling me on the dance floor, tossing me in the pool, hiking in the woods and taking long, hand-in-hand walks together. He always yearned to give me more. What I fear he never fully understood was that I was content to just have him and his remarkable love.

The day before he went into a coma he was fighting me to drive to the supermarket. Mind you he was unable to move anything but one arm and one hand; he’d lost his peripheral vision and his speech was unintelligible, but he was steadfast in his desire to go. He tried to steer his wheelchair out the door for two full hours of exhausting energy and moving no more than a couple of inches. It was later, when he wrote it down for me that he wanted to go to play his lottery numbers! It was his last effort to secure my future!

I asked him if he wanted me to go for him and he smiled brightly. So off I went to play his numbers. They didn’t come in, but I still play them for him because I know nothing would make him happier to know I’d never have another worry.
It wasn’t until I met him that I realized I had never been truly loved before: that every emotion that came before him was a prelude to knowing true love. What I wouldn’t give to relive every moment of our time together all over again. I miss him more than words can ever express. I know he wants more for me even now…and I’m trying.

I keep myself busy with friends, I’m working on finishing a screenplay we began but none of it is easy because I lost the better part of me; the part that made me whole; the part that gave me complete and utter joy every moment of every day…
I can hear him come through the front door: “Daddy’s home” he’d announce. I could always find him if we were out shopping because he’d always be whistling a tune and if he wasn’t whistling he was singing. He loved to sing. One of the things he always wanted to do but never got to do was to sing in front of a big band. I always wanted to do that for him…but alas, I never got to.

June 11, 2012

~ The Author ~
Norma Sherry Rappa is a writer, producer and television personality. Norma has been a contributor to the Federal Observer since February 2003.