Finding Joy Again

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On a windy, March evening in 2018, I met up with one of my friends for a dinner date.  After exchanging hugs and hellos, we were seated at our table and within a few minutes of chatting, my friend said to me, “Wow, you are glowing! You seem so happy—what’s going on? Are you in love?” Hmm, how to answer her question? Would my dear friend of almost 30 years understand if I answered, “Yes, with a TV show?” Chances are she might think I was crazy.  But after all the years we have been friends, she probably had figured that out long ago.

          When she pointed out how happy I seemed, and yes, even glowing, she wasn’t lying. What was this TV show that had sent me into a state of pure bliss? It was “The Doctor Blake Mysteries,” an Australian Drama set in the late 1950s/early ’60s. I should have been a fan from the very beginning considering those are two of my favorite decades, but for some reason, I was slow to embrace this show that began airing in my part of the world on PBS in the summer of 2017.

          On Friday evenings, just before 9:00 p.m., I would tum my TV on to watch the British Mystery “Midsomer Murders” and during that summer of 2017, I noticed a new show that was ending before Midsomer Murders came on. It looked kind of intriguing. A handsome bearded man interacting with a beautiful woman with porcelain like skin and big, expressive eyes. Their accents weren’t quite British. What were they? Was this right after World War II? And then there was the closing theme. The sad and at times haunting violins, cellos and tinkling piano that took the music from sad, to hopeful to an almost uncertain feel at the end. I found myself sitting in the soft light of my family room, just the glow of candles in the window and the TV, sitting on my couch listening to this melody. It brought tears to my eyes as the music seemed to stir up memories of my Mom and I, and the sweet life we shared before she passed in March 2016. It took a few months before I finally decided I wanted some answers about this show.

          So, on a fateful evening, January 22, 2018, to be exact, I took the first step on the journey that would lead me to the happiness I so desperately needed in my life. I clicked over to one of the two PBS Channels that was showing Doctor Blake and caught the last half hour of the episode, “A Night to Remember.” How prophetic! As the next 30 minutes ticked by, I was very much enjoying what I was seeing. I loved the costumes, the high pitched violins that added to the intrigue, the dialogue. I knew as I sat there taking it all in, this was something I wanted more of!

          The following Monday evening, I sat down again, but this time at 7:00 p.m. to see an entire episode and it was “Women and Children.” Wow – to this day, this is one of my favorite episodes. Everything about it had me hooked— suspense, mystery, excellent writing and acting, the music, but what really sealed the deal for me was the person who portrayed this Doctor Blake — Craig McLachlan. His portrayal of Lucien Blake showed so many sides to this well written character: kindness, frustration, compassion, and a steely eyed glare for the arrogant doctor whom he is questioning. As excellent as he is at his job as Police Surgeon, it would seem he is a bit clueless as to how to handle the growing feelings he has for his housekeeper, Jean. From the tension filled opening right through to almost the end of the episode where Lucien and Jean are at the kitchen table saying so little yet speaking volumes with their eyes and expressions, I was absolutely hooked! 

              What was going to happen to them? I needed to know! Every week, I would tune in and thoroughly enjoy each episode as I got to know the characters more and more. When I wasn’t watching an episode, I was thinking about them, writing fan fiction in my head and smiling from ear to ear the entire time. I found blooper reels on YouTube, and I literally would laugh out loud. I began to wonder what I loved more about Craig — his incredible acting or his excellent sense of humor. While many elements come together to make this show as good as it is – the writing, directing, costuming, scoring, it IS Craig that makes it excellent. He is the glue that brings it all beautifully together and makes the show what it is.

         What mattered most of all to me was the fact that for the first time in what felt like a long time, I was happy about something. I was excited about something and it was all because of Craig. From September 2015 right through to January 2017, I was living through the worst time of my life. In this time, I experienced the death of my beloved Mom and Uncle, each passing on the same evening within four minutes of each other, the passing of two Aunts I was very close to, the death of my sweet cat, Maggie, having to go through a lengthy mortgage process to buy the home I have lived in all my life, extermination issues, and perhaps worst of all, knowing the horrible experience of being stalked. I’m not exaggerating — this was my life for 16 months. I began to wonder if I was ever going to have a normal life again. Could I get through one year without losing someone I loved? Was I ever going to be truly happy again?
          I am a woman of faith, and I have no doubt in my mind that God placed this show before me to help me cope with the devastating loss and sadness I was feeling. He has done this for me at other times in my life when I have faced challenges, but this time was a little different. I felt like this time, it was twofold; He knew I needed happiness and laughter and so He gave me this wonderful show and introduced me to the talents and joys of knowing Craig McLachlan in my life. But I truly believe He also placed this in my life because He knew Craig was going to need prayers. It is not lost on me that I discovered this show and Craig at the very same time these troubles started for him. Maybe one of the reasons I had to experience the worst time in my life was so that I could tum around and tell someone like Craig he would make it through the worst time in his life, just as I have.
          In April of 2018, I found a loving, devoted, deeply passionate group on Facebook who was supporting Craig, and I asked to join. Through some amazing women who started this page of support, we have been able to send cards, letters and emails to Craig and his beautiful, strong, and elegant partner, Vanessa Scammell. As a result, I have been able to share with Craig and Vanessa how much I love and support them, how much I believe in Craig, and how thankful I am to know them and their talents in my life. I have shared with them all that happened to me, only to help them see that we can survive some of the worst and most unfair things life can bring us and come out on the other side stronger than before.
          I consider The Doctor Blake Mysteries, but in particular, Craig, to be one of the greatest blessings in my life, and it’s a blessing I am eternally grateful for. Oh, and remember when I mentioned how I would cry while hearing the closing theme of Doctor Blake? Well, I’m not crying anymore when I hear that music. Instead, I feel inspired, thankful, and most of all happy, thinking of all the good that has come into my life. I’m smiling now, I’m happy again, thanks to you, Craig.


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