By Steve Vertlieb: As a writer, I’m seldom at a loss for words. As this bright and early Monday morning dawns and I patiently await the sunrise, however, I find that my emotions have somehow gotten the better of me. The past ten days have been comprised of a joyous whirlwind of activity, which I’ve happily shared with the two most important people in my life … my life long best friend and brother, Erwin, and my beloved, most adorable life partner and love, Rochelle Trust, or … as she is often, and most commonly referred to here … my sweet “Shelly Bear.” As many of you know, as evidenced, by the gentle, and generous flurry of activity and well wishes surrounding my seventy-third birthday this past Saturday, December 15th, I have wistfully grown yet another year older and, perhaps, wiser within these last memorable hours. During the annual celebration of this sadly irreversible process we visited New York City, and thrilled to the new Broadway musical based upon my favorite film, King Kong, and shared lots of hugs, kisses and tears … the latter experienced mere moments ago as I hugged my little brother and bid him adieu as he departed once more for his home in Los Angeles.
So now, as life continues as it inevitably must, I am faced with the prospect of living another year as best and most lovingly as I’m able. As I sit alone at my computer in the moments before darkness is swallowed by sunrise, I am humbled by an overwhelming sense of melancholy, realizing that, as Everett Sloane as Mr. Bernstein observed during a thoughtful moment in Citizen Kane, I am “nearer the end than the beginning,” Like many kindred spirits, I look back at nearly three-quarters of a century and recall moments of heartbreak, as well as moments of bliss, as I contemplate my future … the days, weeks, months, and all too increasingly precious years that may lie ahead … and wonder what experiences await me. I cherish the affection , happiness, and success that I’ve been fortunate enough to know, yet remember the loss, heartaches, and tragedies that have also helped to shape my destiny, as well as the admittedly flawed human being that I am and have become. I love my beautiful Shelly, and cherish the lifelong friendship of my brother, Erwin. I also revere the love of my many friends, both past and present, whose remarkable influence has ultimately transformed the poetic landscape that I have so gratefully shared these seventy-three years.
To those of you who have so graciously expressed your kindness and deeply appreciated affection toward this most unworthy soul upon the bittersweet occasion of my most recent birthday, I can only offer a deeply humble, and most profoundly grateful … Thank You. May we continue to share this roller coaster ride that is often, and most inadequately referred to as Life, and may we celebrate its wonders and infinite goodness together. Here’s to you.