Allow me to add my voice to the millions expressing their gratitude to you, David Letterman, during your final night on television.
It’s, admittedly, been a while since I’ve watched you with any regularity. Since having kids 5&1/2 years ago, it’s rare that I’m ever up ‘til 11:30 to even watch your monolog, much less the entire show. Even before that, though, I’d drifted away. ESPN and Sports Center took my attention for a while. And then there were all those wannabe hosts (from Leno to Arsenio to Pat Sajak (remember him?) to Conan (your closest competitor), who took a bit of the novelty from the late night program. I guess that I lost my interest in all the shows. But even during that distance, regardless of the competition, you were always my Number One, always the one I would watch, if I were still up.
You saved my life, you know. Maybe I’m being a bit dramatic with that statement, but not by too much.
It was probably around 1988, when I was in my very early 20’s. I wasn’t all that happy of a person back then. College wasn’t great. I didn’t know who I was or who I wanted to be. I felt lost and alone, regardless of the smile that may have been on my face. I watched you every night back then. You were absurd and completely irreverent, while simultaneously being awkward and even uncomfortable. There was something about that combination that made me laugh in spite of myself. When nothing else felt certain in my life, I knew that I could count on you. Night after night, from 12:30-1:30am, I laughed. Just having that to look forward to kept my head up, kept me hoping, kept me moving forward.
Boy, then there was 9/11. I didn’t laughed much in that week of shock, horror and grief, as we all watched the burning towers. That next week when things returned to “normal”, you were the person I wanted to watch. I needed to hear from you to know that it was ok to laugh again. I remember watching that first post-9/11 show. I remember you reflections and I remember your honesty. I remember watching as you fought back the sadness and anger that just below the surface as you shared with us your Heart. You were such a voice of resilience and perseverance. And then, again, you made me laugh. And you kept me moving forward.
I could go on with favorite memories, shticks, and moments, but that would only embarrass you. So I’ll just say thank you for everything. I truly appreciate all that you have given. It has been received and given back out again and again.