Few people who I haven't met have had such a profound impact on my life. Doris Day inspired some of my best work through the character of Madison Night. She motivated me to volunteer at a cat shelter and raise money for DDAF, her animal-rights organization. She paved the way for starting over and guided me through the times when I unexpectedly found myself starting over too.
She taught me to believe in the spirit of Que Sera, Sera, that we need to let go and allow for the possibility that things will work out the way the Universe wants.
She made me feel less alone.
I came to the Doris Day fan club late in life, not having seen one of her movies until the age of thirty-nine. She knocked me out with her performance in The Man Who Knew Too Much. I was going through a dark period at the time, and her lightness and spirit reminded me of the person I'd once been and helped me believe I might one day be again. She demonstrated a resilience, through adversity after adversity, that seemed to defiantly proclaim there was nothing that could dim her light.
I devoured her catalog. Her music, movies, and TV show informed my world. Her spirit was the gold standard. Slowly, I returned to the land of sunshine and daisies with her as my secret mentor.
What I've learned since discovering her is that there are a million people with stories like mine. People who felt a connection to her from hearing their mothers sing "Que Sera Sera" to them and then going on to sing the song to their children. People who work tirelessly to secure and foster shelter pets. People with broken hearts who instead of becoming bitter or closed off, allow themselves to not give up on love. People who absorb and pass along the light she gave.
I'm proud to be one of those people. My impression of her from before I saw her perform couldn't have been farther from the woman I learned she was. In a life that was underscored by more challenges than most, she consistently demonstrated a sense of joy that can't help but make you happy.
It sure did to me.
RIP, Doris Mary Ann Kappelhoff aka Clara Bixby aka Eunice aka Doris Day. You've earned it.