Happy New Year. I honestly don’t know if the New Year exists where you are; do I wish you a Happy New Year? Aren’t you in a place beyond time?
My New Year has been okay. I mean, we miss you. Last year was “the first New Year without” you. This is the second. Last year, I felt the need to do it really differently; we invited people so it wouldn’t just be “us without you” but this year, it feels okay to just have it be “us without you.” I mean, it’s not okay. But it’s okay.
Here’s something that happened right around this New Year: I saw a movie you would have loved, Abba. They remade Akira Kurosawa’s “Seven Samurai” AGAIN. I know! (The first came out in 1960 and I don’t think we ever watched it together, did we?) This time, “The Magnificent Seven” has Denzel Washington as the lead and it has Ethan Hawke and this guy Chris Pratt you never knew about – everyone thinks he’s the best thing since sliced bread. I mean, he’s great, he’s adorable and talented and he’s hunky but not too hunky and he’s funny but not too funny… I don’t know if he would have been your choice for this part. Nevertheless, it’s got a great cast. The script isn’t perfect, but it’s a lot of fun. You would have loved it.
It’s a Western and you know we loved our Westerns. You grew up on tales of cowboys and dreams of being a gunslinger and you used to say that your favorite comic books when you were a kid were all about cowboys. You grew up to love Japanese cinema, and “Seven Samurai” was one of your all-time favorite movies by one of your most favorite directors, Kurosawa. And you and I both always loved Denzel Washington and we especially love casting “against type” which this movie does with him, so this movie is literally all of the things you and I loved most all in one movie.
So. So I went and saw it. Without you. It was good to go out and see it. But it was sad. Why? Well, I wanted to share it with you. I wanted to laugh with you at the funny parts. And when it was unclear why something happened (how many times can someone get shot and keep on walking?), I wanted you to be the one to mirror my “huh?” face. You mirrored my face; or I guess I mirrored yours. I don’t know. It all seems the same now.
I wanted to talk to you about the movie after. You always knew how to talk after a movie. You were such a devil’s advocate: you’d take an opposing opinion about something just for the sake of argument and debate. It was one of the most Jewish things about you: your knack for seeing the other side of anything; of finding a way to turn any issue upside down. You were not a religious man, but you had the spirit of our Rabbinical traditions running through you, didn’t you? Of argument and exploration for the sake of the skill and exercise of it.
Not many people know how to talk after a movie like you did.
I’ve decided that I don’t want more movies like this one. I’d rather not see another fantastic Western remade from a Kurosawa film with my favorite actor if it means I can’t see it with you. I can do without. If it’s without you, I can do without.
I have to keep doing life without. We have to do life without you.
This movie, this New Year, this Yom Kippur which is upon us. I now live my life without you. Forever.
I won’t sign off with “Happy New Year,” Abba. You are in a place that exists without time and without boundaries and most painfully, without me.
I love you.