I honestly thought this would be one of the most difficult recaps I’d be writing about This Is Us. But it’s not. I mean, yes, watching the series give Randall (Sterling K. Brown) the closure and information he’s searched for all of his life in this week’s episode, titled “Birth Mother,” was somewhat triggering, especially since I also never had the opportunity to meet my birth mother and the information I received about her once I met my birth father’s family–outside of an artist rendering of her likeness by my uncle that I will cherish until the day I perish–was somewhere between slim and none. And yes, I definitely had thug tears as I watched Randall go through his range of emotions listening to his late mother Laurel’s beau Hai tell her story. And sure, the young motherhood, the struggle with drugs, the never getting to meet her son and wondering what happened to him… all of that was eerily familiar.
As I like to say, I resemble those remarks.
But it wasn’t difficult to watch. It wasn’t difficult to get through. It was, in fact, cathartic. It made me smile seeing Randall get those answers, for him to have his heart filled with things he never thought he’d know, to have him be told that his mother didn’t abandon him, and that only circumstances and regret kept them apart. Yes, I cried. And after processing said tears, I determined that they were happy tears. It helped me imagine my birth mother going through similar situations–being young and addicted to drugs and unable to control her future–and that those situations kept her from looking for me. From finding her baby boy.
What also gave me joy was the location where Randall and Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) ended up–the city of New Orleans. I’ve always felt that place had healing powers. I’ve always felt that it was somewhere people go to find answers. I’ve always felt it was magic. And the way they used water as a healing process, the way his birth mother gave her pain away to the water, and the way Randall did the same (although we might have to chalk up the visions of his mother as a side effect to his absinthe imbibing), made my heart flutter. It made me smile.
There’s so much more to be told about Randall. It’ll be fun to see if they revisit the house by the river, and to see how this revelation about his mother, and the time he spent with his father, informs him going forward. Randall was broken. Skeptical. Angry. Incomplete. He’s none of those things now. I may not share those exact sense of emotions, but seeing him come full circle, to see how the water worked for him, gives me hope that it was the same for me. That both my parents loved me, and that my story–like his story–was more than I was ever told.
Here’s to This Is Us for another episode that mirrored my life. It’s no longer spooky when it happens. I’ve come to fully embrace them. (Now if only someone could embrace Kevin (Justin Hartley) and let that man have a few good moments… Sheesh.)