No spoilers, but I have to talk about “This Is Us.”
The well-written NBC series ended with a couple gut punches then a soft landing.
What I have to point out is the painting that popped into the story again at the end.
It was hanging in the house that Kevin built – for his mother.
It was easy to miss if you forgot about Season 1, Episode 5, that aired in 2016. Kevin, the character who is an actor, was reading lines for a play with his two young nieces, but upset them with talk about dying.
So he shows them the painting he did – a mass of colors that reflects his feelings about the play. He says this:
“… I felt like the play was about life, you know? And life is full of color.
“And we each get to come along and we add our own color to the painting.
“You know? And even though it’s not very big, the painting, you sort of have to figure that it goes on forever, you know, in each direction.
“So, like, to infinity, you know? ‘Cause that’s kind of like life, right? And it’s really crazy, if you think about it, isn’t it, that, 100 years ago, some guy that I never met came to this country with a suitcase.
“He has a son, who has a son, who has me.
“So, at first, when I was painting, I was thinking, you know, maybe up here, that was that guy’s part of the painting and then, you know, down here, that’s my part of the painting.
“And then I started to think, well, what if we’re all in the painting, everywhere? And-and what if we’re in the painting before we’re born? What if we’re in it after we die?
“And these colors that we keep adding, what if they just keep getting added on top of one another, until eventually we’re not even different colors anymore? We’re just one thing. One painting.
“I mean, my dad is not with us anymore. He’s not alive, but he’s with us. He’s with me every day.
“It all just sort of fits somehow.
“And even if you don’t understand how yet, people will die in our lives, people that we love.
“In the future. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe years from now.
“I mean, it’s kind of beautiful, right, if you think about it, the fact that just because someone dies, just because you can’t see them or talk to them anymore, it doesn’t mean they’re not still in the painting.
“I think maybe that’s the point of the whole thing. There’s no dying. There’s no you or me or them. It’s just us.
“And this sloppy wild, colorful, magical thing that has no beginning, it has no end ... this right here, I think it’s us.”
Kevin is one of many characters we come to care about in this story. A story about everyone.
You and I. Many lives entangled. Us.
• Lonny Cain, retired managing editor of The Times in Ottawa, also was a reporter for The Herald-News in Joliet in the 1970s. His Paperwork email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Or mail The Times, 110 W. Jefferson St., Ottawa, IL 61350.