|The incomparable Linney|
So over two years ago I began watching Laura Linney's portrayal of Cathy Jamison — a newly diagnosed cancer patient with an aggressive form of melanoma. I love Laura Linney, always have since I saw her in Absolute Power and then You Can Count On Me and so many others, but — her performance was a tour de force.
I don't use that phrase but it's a phrase that accurately describes how the actress uses her trademark strength and vulnerability to embody Cathy as she lives the last years of her life coping with her disease, her regular work & family lives, and trying to figure out what living she needs to cram in before she can't anymore while still being winningly hopeful that she will do everything she can to beat it.
But at the end of that September, a month after the Big C started, art imitated life when my sister-in-law was diagnosed (overnight) with a brain tumor — glioblastoma to be exact. What Ted Kennedy had. And in this bizarre way, while I watched the show, simultaneously Robin lived her life with her cancer.
Amazingly, Robin managed to have two years of terrific living — she got married to a terrific guy, traveled extensively, enjoyed her lovely home, did things with family and friends, had her first grand baby — alongside two craniotomies, a gamma knife procedure, bimonthly MRIs, radiation and chemotherapies. The last six weeks took their toll and denied her the wonderful kind of life she'd been living, but thankfully she didn't linger.
I felt the same about Cathy Jamison. The decision to truncate the last season fit the abruptness of loss that comes when cancer takes over. After the humor and the accomplishments of seasons 1-3, we watched Cathy get sicker and struggle with more physical disabilities as the Big C progressed. Season 4 — The Big C: hereafter — took us through her loss of job, shrinking options, transition to the tranquility and stark reality of hospice and — when the insurance ran out — finally bedridden back at home, surrounded by family, friends, meds and a caring hospice nurse who understands it all and has no baggage to crowd how and what she gives to Cathy in her final days.
|The incomparable Robin, beautifully optimistic|
In the most ironic of ways, The Big C so mirrored what happened to Robin that I do believe if asked to sum up her too short life, she would've said what Linney's character Cathy says —