I don't know where to begin.
Russ McBride entered my life almost two years ago exactly. And what a thundering entrance. My cast of 1940s Radio Hour
had just completed our performance and were letting people "run the gauntlet" (where you have to walk past all the cast members to get out)
as they exited the theater. Russ had come with his son, Nik, and kept gushing to us about how much he enjoyed the show - so much, in fact, he promised to return if we checked out his improv group, "Quick Wits
I recall those snowy December evenings with warmth and love. My cast ventured over to Midvale Main Street Theater several times to laugh, eat junk food, and enjoy each other. Russ pulled me onto stage as his wife for the newlywed game my first time at Quick Wits and boy was it a hoot playing his white trash babe. He told me he knew we'd be good friends after he first asked me, regarding our upcoming sketch, "Alright so what do you want to do?" I smiled coyly at him and winked as I said, "You." Then I laughed myself silly because I have no seriousness behind what I say, I just think it is funny. I'm glad he did too because friends we became. Dear friends.
This weekend, we lost Russ to a massive, unexpected stroke. I lost a constant support, a friend, and a source of more laughs than I can count. Yet, the memories I have are priceless and will be with me forever.
Here are a few stories:
- I was down and out about my relationship choices, so I posed a question on my blog about what type of man you would see me with
. Russ responded with this: This is such a great question...How many of us have heard "I never would
have seen you two together in a million years...."..there are so many
factors that play into the final decision of a significant other..with
that being said I truly feel that no matter what "type" fits you, there
are some qualities that I feel you ultimately deserve (sappy moment
alert)..granted I have not spent enough quality time to get an accurate
account of your type..but you are so well rounded that I can only assume
so many types fit your personality...someone that can make you laugh,
not just few moments of LOLs but even just the times when a past moment
brings a chuckle or a giggle or even a slight grin, I loved the comment
of " but is no wallflower himself (as in, he'll join in conversations
you're having even if he doesn't know the people well or at all)", you
seem to have the ability to be the life of the party without having to
know ANYONE at the party and you don't want to have to babysit or make
sure he is having a good time, you want to interact with
everyone..someone who enjoys the arts but at the very least will support
you in them..someone whose knees get weak and breath becomes short
because you simply walked into the room, even 60 years later...someone
who becomes stronger and better because you are beside them...when all
dates are filled with the excitement and giddiness of a first date,
whether going to the ballet or sitting home watching a dvd...when there
is no reason needed to get you chocolates, flowers, a card or even a
little toy out of the .25 cent machine...someone to, at the very least,
OFFER to help cook and clean...Wow this is very sappy, I could go on and
on...I don't think any of this actually even answered the question. You
have so many different types that you have dated cause you are that
rare person that truly cares for everyone.
- I blogged about wanting a certain dress
. Within a week, I received a message from Russ, "I have that dress for you." The story is here
. Of course, he told me he had some connection and got the dress inexpensively and would not let me pay him back. Two other times I asked if his connection could help me get some spendy dresses I wanted and both times he said, "Absolutely." Upon asking him how much I owed him, he would never let me pay him back. I asked him over and over, but he would never let me. One time, my friend loved one of the dresses as much as I do, and he got one for her too
- I had mentioned something to him about how I used to make Easter baskets for all my roommates and how, now that I live alone, I made my own basket and had no one else to give one too. And you know what? I went to Quick Wits one night and they said, "We have something for you!" It was a huge Easter basket! From Russ!
- I was auditioning for a lot of shows and doubting if I deserved a lead or even a part at all. He had seen me perform several times and spent a late evening after Quick Wits talking with me outside into the wee hours - about performing, life, and just anything that came up to help me with perspective. When I got the leading role in a show, he bought me a ticket to another theater company who was doing the show so I could see what I was getting myself into.
-Opening night of my show, with my first lead
lead, I received a gift at intermission. "Someone brought these and asked us to give them to you." I read the card. Russ. Two dozen roses. He couldn't stay for the show, but wanted me to know how much I deserved this moment.
- I got stranded at a rest stop near Brigham City
. As soon as I posted it, Russ was on the phone asking what he could do to help and if he needed to come rescue me. Some friends near me responded and came to my aid just as he was leaving his house, so I called to tell him he didn't need to come.
- My mom came into town and I took her to Quick Wits. Russ went out of his way to come talk to us for the entire intermission. As he had done the year prior when my sister and her friends came into town. He made a huge impression on all of them and, even after only fifteen minutes, they'd all regularly ask how that nice, funny guy from improv was doing.
- Last Saturday November 24 he performed with Quick Wits - he may have been planning on performing anyway, but I had texted him several times begging him to be there because my sissy likes him most and she was in town from Ohio with her new hubby. Once he told me he'd be there, I invited several more friends out. That evening, we talked and he told me he almost didn't make it but was glad he did and glad he got to see us.
- He supported many of my friends in many of their shows and even met a group of us to support Megan in Beauty
and Nichole in Annie Get Your Gun.
- Most importantly, Russ's constant support and words of kindness helped me, along with the support of a handful of others, avoid marrying the wrong man. He literally helped change my life.
- We would e-mail all the time for about a year. This communication dissipated after I started dating my Rob, a Quick Wits teammate. I'm not sure if Russ felt I no longer needed him, if life got busy, or a multitude of other reasons. He was always there with his words to give me a boost. I tried to do the same for him, he was just so much better at it.
Some of the inspiring/funny/random thoughts he shared with me are below, all exactly his words from e-mails:
- Nik came into my life when I needed him more than he needed me...it is amazing how often that happens...I try to look at things in life that make the days better...and if you look it always seems that people or things come into our lives right at the perfect time...they also leave the same way...sometimes it is the person that shows up right when you needed someone to just understand and listen, or the person that gives you the boost you needed.
- I sat and watched the final hours of sun...my favorite time of day is that moment when the world is settling down, usually about 630-8 where the kids are being called in for dinner and baths, the traffic has subsided, even the animals are beginning to be done for the night...it is just a peaceful, peaceful time. I am very lucky Nik likes improv shows..he goes through so much always just sitting there waiting for dad to finish what he does...but it has been such a blessing for me...he even started his own "troupe" at his school and had a talent show with it..Yes, dad was beaming..we have sooooooo much fun together and it is incredible to see him WANT to do the things I take such an interest in. It is funny, my entire life has been athletics, fitness, sports not until I was out of college that I got into acting and improv...people would ask me in high school "What if your son isn't into fitness or sports?" and I would always respond "I will support him in whatever he wants to do, even if its acting.." Now I just sit and watch him excel at it all...*proud daddy moment*.
- My family and I are very close, we all support one another in pretty much everything
- My favorite times at the shows are when we banter back and forth...good times.
- I actually have a phobia of haircuts (I think my ear got clipped when I was a kid) but it isn't about getting my ear clipped or anything like that...I fear a bad haircut (maybe it was the bad haircuts a s a kid growing up to save money)..I have walked up to a saloon and honestly found the most mundane excuse to walk away and change my appointment...weird fact about Russ.
- I don't want to just be good. I want to be the part that actors pattern after or directors try to steal...in Improv I want other actors to say "I patterned how I did this game or this character after Russ..."
- Just want to say again how great you did on closing night. Great job....I am sure your parents were not only impressed with their daughters talents, but were beaming with pride..:)
- When one hurts it is tough to be on the outside looking in and not being able to fix it or shield that pain from you. I am sorry that it hurt that deeply. But know that I am here....whether it is to hear about the same thing over and over or if it is a simple hi or if its a "I need to get out of here and you need to take me..."
- You are truly one of the most incredible people I know...from physical appearance to personality to talent to spirituality to your heart...the list goes on and on and on...I have said it before, quit stepping over dollars to pick up quarters.
- Riss, I don't need to tell you what you mean to so many people out there...I don't need to tell you all the qualities you have....I don't need to tell you that anytime you turn around and need me I am there. You are an amazing woman. One that a man with the sense of a billy goat would be eternally grateful to even just have gotten to meet you. You embody (where is my mind :)) everything that one would look for in a relationship...be it romantic or friendship.
- Riss, there is not many out there that I can think of that I would cast above you, of course we all have our strengths, but there is something to be said about an actor/actress that is quite literally LOVED by everyone. Do you think that I was just giving you a line when I told you you light up the room? It is soooooo true that you do..and you light up the stage as well. And at the end of the day, if you had a blast and truly enjoyed what you just did, then don't second guess yourself. I can see you on the "Big" stage one day, if that is what you want. Never would I doubt that you can get there. You are an amazing person in so many ways.
- My heart dearly aches for you when you are hurting or sad (is that they same thing?). But again, do know that I truly hold you as one of the most remarkable people that I have EVER known. My world literally lights up with even just an email....I want to slap the men that have been in your life and just say "Do you realize what a TRUE man would give to be with a Larissa???? Are you really that stupid, self absorbed and blind that you can't see the forest through the trees??? You hit the female lottery and you blew the WHOLE THING!!!!"
- I flirt because it is in my nature to flirt....but I also understand the importance of a kind word and the impact that just a little attention can give to someone. If by me simply smiling and telling someone how they have brightened my day translates into them taking a little extra care of themselves or giving them a smile that passes to the next person, then how could that be a bad thing? And if they "spruce" up just a little bit more because they know I will be there or that I might see them at the show or something, then that confidence translates into EVERYTHING they end up doing for the entire day and night. It is even a bit selfish cause it makes me feel good to see people improve themselves.
- Thank you for your kind words about Nik...I fear (actually look forward to) the day I fall for a woman that I come to adore as much as that little boy...they will have control of the world and me:)
- I haven't set the bar high at all for Nik. I will spoil him for the day (ok weekend) but he knows that stuff is just that, stuff...I have instilled a big sense of charity into his life that he has never taken things for granted..and what amazes me about him, is he recognizes, at this early age, how hard I am willing to work for him and others that I love..he appreciates it and never takes advantage of it..but I can't help but want to give him everything and show him off to the world. He is so incredible and has made me not only be but want to be a better man daily. It is amazing how much and how many things he has changed in my life...
I haven't lost anyone close to me in a good, long while. Life is delicate, fragile, and fleeting. I despise the "He is in a better place now"-esque comments. I know, I get it. But right now? Right now, I miss his presence. Right now, I keep expecting to see him walk around the corner flipping his water bottle and coyly smiling saying it was all a joke. Right now, I wish I could hear him talk about his amazing son one more time. Or give me a huge hug. Or send me a message just to say hi like he so often did. Right now, I have a hard time comprehending all of those things will never happen again. Right now, I am eternally grateful for this man who touched my life and changed my course. Russ had a way of making everyone around him feel like a million bucks.
We love you, Russ.
His viewing will be Monday, December 10th
from 6-8pm at Myers in Roy 5865 s 1900 w in Roy. The funeral is Tuesday, December 11th at 11am (viewing that day from 10-10:45) at the Chateau Park church (formerly 3rd, 8th, 23rd wards) building. 5930 s 2200 w in Roy.
|The flowers Russ got me for opening night|