Please excuse me while I quote Marcia Brady from the famous episode of “The Brady Bunch”, where The Monkees Davy Jones kisses her cheek, and she holds it and declares: “I will never wash this cheek again.”
Wednesday, August 31, 2016, my biggest crush in life, Harry Connick Jr., kissed my cheek. And hugged me. At least 3 times. And sang a song about New Orleans called “Mardi Gras”, and dedicated it to me – all on the air, during a taping of his brand new daytime talk show: “Harry.”
So that happened. And I will never wash this cheek again.
Allow me to explain. Wednesday, August 31st, was the anniversary of the day that my late husband, Don Shepherd, and I met. In person. After a 3-year “online” relationship from Florida to New York, and then New Jersey. Then, on that day, in 2002, the man that would become my husband, flew into Newark airport, where I met him, and where we truly began to fall in love. That first day he was here, I took him to the US Open tennis tournament, because he was a huge tennis fan. We sat in the hot sun and watched match after exciting match. He loved it. Every year since his death, that is how I TRY to spend August 31st – by going to the US Open. Sometimes I go with a friend, other times alone. This year, I couldn’t get tickets though, because I’ve had no income all summer and they were too expensive.
Instead, I decided to submit online for FREE tickets to a taping of Harry’s new daytime talk show. I put in a bunch of dates as options, and they sent me my e-ticket a few weeks ago, with the date of August 31st on it. I invited my friend Vanessa to come with me, and then didn’t think about the date again until that morning, when my alarm went off to Bon Jovi’s “Livin On a Prayer.” One of my biggest signs from Don, when he wants to make me laugh. He hated that song, and hated Bon Jovi, and I used to call him all the time when it came on the radio and blast it in his ear, just to annoy him. It was then that I realized, that this day, was the anniversary of the day we met.
Why is this significant? Because just like tennis, a love for music and Harry Connick Jr. was something else Don and I shared. Our wedding song was Connick’s “A Wink and a Smile.” His was the last concert we ever attended together. So it only made sense that I was going to see a taping of his show, on this day.
On my way to the TV studio, I got sign after sign from Don. Lots of ambulances. (his job as a paramedic) A minimum of 5 PENSKE yellow moving trucks, which is what he drove from Florida to NJ when he moved in with me back in 2005. While Vanessa and I were in the holding room waiting to be seated for the taping, I was joking with her that we would probably have a good chance at a seat toward the front of the studio, because she is “hot.” I told her: “That’s how they seat people for TV shows. They dont want old or ugly people up front. If youre young and hot, or energetic and fun looking, youll probably be up front.” She said: “Thats not how they do it. Come on.” I said: “Yes they do. And I consider myself attrractive. I mean, Im not ugly. But YOURE hot. And you have a short skirt on, so that helps too.” She laughed it off.
Two minutes later, as we reached the top of the stairs to the studio, one of the staff members looked us up and down and said: “You two. Follow me.” Not only were we seated in the FRONT ROW, but the exact center, and I had the aisle seat, so if Harry were to walk up and down those stairs into the audience, he would have to pass right by me. I looked at Vanessa and said: “See??? Your hotness got us front row!” She said “No. Don got us front row. Don did this.” We agreed in the end that together, Don’s spirit and Vanessa’s hotness got us front row seats. My only goal now was to get maybe a picture with him. What happened instead was simply stunning, and would not have happened at all if we werent seated in those two exact seats.
The show began taping. Harry came out to massive applause. He did an opening monologue segment, and then started talking to the audience a bit. He went up the aisle past me, to speak with another woman further up in the audience. When they were finished, he started walking back down. I dont know what came over me, other than thinking “this is my only shot”, but I was suddenly raising my hand like I was in elementary school, and yelling to him as he passed me: “Can I say something???” Before I knew it, he was saying: “Sure.” He gave me the microphone, and asked me to stand up. And then, in front of the entire audience, I told Harry and everyone else, about my husband’s death and our love for music, and for him, and on and on and on. He hugged me. He kissed my cheek. He said words to me that I cant quite remember at this juncture. And all was right with the world ….
Then it got even better. During a commercial break, he leaned down in front of me and talked to me some more. He then said: “Whats your name again?” I told him. When the commercial break ended, he said he likes to close the show with a song. Then, with his amazing band behind him , and that gorgeous white piano, he said these words: “I’d like to dedicate this song to my new friend Kelley Lynn.” And then he sang, and he sang my name in the song, and he thanked me again for coming, and he said Im so sorry for your loss, and he meant it, and all was right with the world.
Thank you, Don. Thank you, universe. Thank you, Harry. As soon as I find out when this show will air, I will let you all know so that we can record it and get those screenshots of my epic moments on this day. They said they are taping the shows out of order, so it could air anytime from September to after the New Year, but they will email me with the air-date. Until then, excuse me while I walk around in a cloud, holding my face and declaring: “I will never wash this cheek again.”