A creative spirit, Jim was a cinematographer, director, actor, writer, teacher, and artist. This is a copy of my final letter to him, read at his "celebration of life" on December 7:
Rae's story for Paula to read:
Rae has asked me to read her remembrances of Jim. Over the years, Rae and Jim, both superb writers, wrote each other hundreds of letters. Rae, in fact, has a collection of six computer discs filled with these love letters. This is Rae's final letter to Jim.
Thank you. Thank you for being my best friend. As I watched you dying that night, while I was the only person physically in the room, I literally felt the presence of dozens of people who were there to help you complete this, your final journey.
From the beginning of the ordeal, I had only asked that you not die alone, that I could be with you. When you began your process of passage around one o'clock in the morning, I spoke directly in your ear. I told you how much I loved you, and reminded you of the deep soul connection we both felt from theday we met almost thirty years ago. We both knew, somehow, that we had been together before, and that we will be together again. We talked about it so many times.
I have so many memories--our wedding on a rainy day, weather we both loved, and finding the bed at our hotel strewn with rose petals....
I remember our secret signals--that if a candle was lit in the bedroom, it meant an invitation to romance. One night, you were out filming in Freeman and promised to be home by eight. I put every candle in the house in our bedroom, and lit them all. I put on one of your starched white shirts, and put little heart stickers on my body for you to find. I'd prepared wine and cheese and chocolate. Eight o'clock passed, and then nine, and then ten. I got more and more angry with you and, besides, the candles were burning down and I was getting cold. I swore that, at 10:30, I'd put on my flannel jammies and give up it. About 10:20, I heard your car arrive, and I heard you rustling around downstairs. I knew you were looking for our symbol of forgiveness, a candle--but there were none. Not one. You crept up the steps, barely opened the door, stuck your arm in, and flicked your Bic.
You were so flabbergasted that I'd waited for you, that our room was literally glowing with dozens of candles and our shared love.
I remember exposing you to the world--taking you to Europe, and the total joy of watching you, in your child-like wonder, see places you never thought you'd go. I remember taking you to your first-ever Broadway show--"Into the Woods", a Stephen Sondheim show, of course--and to the Theatre District in London, as well. How excited you were! Remember when we saw "Chorus Line" in Los Angeles, and sat right behind Hal Linden, the guy who played "Barney Miller?" You totally immersed yourself--body, mind, and soul--watching truly good performance art. We went together to concerts-- to see Cleo Laine, and Ella Fitzgerald, Mel Torme, Rosemary Clooney, Joe Pass, and Tuck and Patti---and, again, it was a joy, watching you take in the live music, almost on a mystical cellular level.
You know that I believe that there is balance in everything in the Universe....that people's light sides are equal to their dark sides. Your light side was so bright and beautiful. And as bright as your light side was, your dark side was equally deep and profound, shaped by pain I never knew. Finally, in these past months, you gave me the gift of total acceptance of all of you--the light and the dark, and wondrous and the ugly, and you taught me how to embrace them both and to love and accept you exactly as you were, no longer needing to change you or fix you or even understand you--but to accept the "you of you," from your broken heart to your creative genius.
You were so difficult to live with.... our yin and yang never worked. You a slob, me a neat freak. You, totally irresponsible about money, me having to clean up your financial messes. You, never planning a minute ahead, me making lists and organizing, organizing, organizing. You, who never put a drop of oil in a car: I, fanatical about maintenance. You with your rose-colored glasses, even through cancer and heart attacks and financial ruin. Me, the pragmatist, the one grounded in reality. In the end, though we could no longer live together, we found a way to come full circle, back to our friendship and soul connection.
The last two nights before you went into the hospital for what was supposed to be a relatively simple surgery, we had some of the deepest, most profound and honest conversations of our lives together. Thank you. Oh, thank you.
No one has ever loved me as you have, Jim. And no one will ever love me in that way, which was so uniquely you. In the early days, you literally saved my life. Later, you worried about me, protected me, trusted me with your beautiful children, and shared your deepest truths.
You left me with the greatest gift and honor--to be with you at the moment when you died, holding your hand and telling you how wonderful you were. It was truly the most holy moment of my life, your last gift to me.
Thank you, Jim. Travel well. Rest easy. Play golf with David. Take pictures of the clouds. Listen to the music of the angels. I will always, always hold you in my heart.
Someone sent me a lyric from "Sunday in the Park with George," the Sondheim show you loved so much about the artist George Seurrat It is:
"White. A blank page or canvas. His favorite. So many possibilities."
Dear Jim, What a canvas you made of your life. What a legacy you left for all of us. So many possibilities.......