I am so grateful for the gloaming – defined as twilight, that glow of the day just after the sun has set and magic colors endure briefly as the night descends upon the land. I love the concept of the gloaming – the warm residue of a day well-lived; the embers of contentment from a day well-spent. The gloaming makes me happy.
Ironically, I only truly began to contemplate the full magic of “the gloaming” while watching the 1997 HBO movie “In the Gloaming” – a decidedly not happy movie about a young man dying from AIDS returning to his well-to-do parents’ home for the final months – the gloaming – of his life. My wife hates thinking about that movie. Not because it wasn’t well acted; to the contrary, it was acted too well. Glenn Close, the mother, reaffirming her bond with her homosexual son played by Robert Sean Leonard (Dead Poets Society) to the exclusion of a self-possessed father masterfully played by the Hudson Valley’s own David Strathairn. As the plot progresses the universally sweet perspective of a mother’s never-ending love for her child is projected wonderfully in Close’s performance.
That movie and Close’s performance hit a nerve with my wife. I watched her feeling every turn, every emotion. I saw her imagining herself as that mother and wife agonizing over the sadness of her husband’s detachment from her son whose lifestyle was humiliating to her husband. Watching that movie, I saw projected in Heather’s eyes the unyielding and unconditional love of a mother for her son at any age; and finally the grief and hopelessness of the loss of a son to an equally unyielding and unconditional illness.
We were just married in 1997, and I was still measuring my life with Heather against our respective reactions to pop culture, movies, music and the like. We rented “In the Gloaming” because we liked Glenn Close and Robert Sean Leonard from past movies. We were four years from having our first child and moving from Connecticut to Strathairn’s Hudson Valley. For me, “In the Gloaming” was heart-wrenching and beautiful and provocative not only because of the compelling story that it told, but because of the wonderful glimpse it gave me into my future – a view of my wife feeling the feelings of a mother four years before the birth of our first child. Heather has always been very in touch with her emotions. But “In the Gloaming” was the first time that I saw my wife’s emotional connectivity in the context of her capacity as a mother and the gloaming has been happily imprinted on my psyche ever since.
To this day, Heather groans whenever I mention that movie. Her plaintive response became more pronounced with the birth of our son; even more anguished with the arrival of his sister a couple years later. My wife’s reaction to the mere mention of the word gloaming is predictable.
Equally predictable is my annual pronouncement at this time of year that Autumn is my favorite season, accented by my predictable proclamation that “we are in the gloaming of the year.” Heather groans. I chuckle. The kids don’t quite get it. But the kids are well aware that I love this time of year. And they say it’s their favorite time too – it is after all the threshold to the holiday season and the predictable pleasure of the traditions that we share each year together as a family. This magic all began in the gloaming for me. It persists in the gloaming every day, every year.
Soon we will have a predictable Thanksgiving meal with familiar people who warm our hearts. We’ll repeat some of the same jokes and songs and stories that we have shared for many years and revel in their newness all the same. We’ll proceed with our holiday season, doing so many of the things that we do every year, experiencing them anew; creating wonderful new memories against a familiar backdrop of the fading light of a year well-lived, whose colors are being seen again for the first time. I am so grateful for the gloaming.