The Goodbye That Never Happened

August 26, 2020

An Ode To Claire Dunphy

The Glue That Holds Us Together

I was watching a rerun of a “Modern Family” cast interview with Paula Faris on GMA the other day. It was fairly standard, Pauls asked questions, the cast answered. Until Paula asked this one particular question: “Which character will be missed the most?”. I was stunned at the hesitation, but not the eventual answer: “Claire”. Plain and simple. Maybe it needed to be. She was the glue that held the Dunphy and Pritchett families together. Can you imagine the show without her? Close your eyes.

Phil is at home with the kids. Claire went out for some drinks with her friends for a much needed “girls night”.  Phil had been expecting her to be home by now. He couldn’t see her car from the window. “Hmph.” he thought, “Maybe she’s running a little late – traffic can be bad in the city”. As he turned away from the window his thoughts turned to a snack. He moved towards the fridge but was intercepted by the phone, which was ringing. “Hello,” he answered cheerfully, “Dunphy residence.” His face fell. “This is. Oh my God! Okay, thank you.” Claire was in the hospital.  Phil moved with a sense of urgency he had rarely known.

Mitch and Cam had just got home from date night. “Okay, okay. But what did you really think of that strawberry cake? I’m thinking it would go great with some champagne. We should have got it to go.” Cam, of course, agreed. “Nothing like a little dessert before the romance -”. He had been about to say something more but Mitch’s phone dinged with a text from Phil. Cam knew something was wrong immediately.  Mitch panicked. “Oh my God. Claire’s in the hospital.” Cam went into action. “Okay. I’ve got the keys. Grab your coat.” All Mitch could do was think of all the ways his sister had been his rock, his best friend and confidante. For years, she had been his  whole world, the most stable person in his family after their parents divorce. Now she was in trouble. The two hurried out to the car. As they walked to the car Mitch came full stop. Cam whirled around just in time to see Mitch reel, phone in hand. Cam caught him before he fell. Mitch barely got the words out.  “She’s gone. Cam, I’m not ready for this.” Cam knew that Mitch just had his whole world turned upside down. As he hugged Mitch, and through the heartache, he spoke the only two words he’d say for the rest of the night: “Oh God.” Everything had changed.

And that is only one person’s reaction. What would Jay do? He planned for years on passing Pritchett’s closet on to Claire. She finally took the job. It didn’t matter now. The future Jay had seen, carried on through Claire was dead now too. Poor Phil would be alone for a while. The house they had bought together a quiet and empty reminder of what had once been. If you’ve ever watched the show you might have noticed that there were very few scenes between Jay & Gloria and  Mitch & Cam. Jay’s relationship with Mitch mostly existed through Claire.  The kids’ entire home life existed through Claire. Phil’s relationship with the Pritchett’s was through Claire. Everyone in that family had a relationship with Claire. Everyone looked to Claire to make things right. To keep everything on track. To mend relationships and cuts & scrapes. She is the glue that holds the family together. It’s easy to see the family growing apart in her absence because they were all closest to Claire. That is what leadership looks like in a woman – being proactive in relationships and pulling everyone together. Imagine the pain they would all feel if she were gone. Maybe this is why women don’t get the credit they deserve – it’s far too painful to acknowledge what life would be like without her. And the show would be completely different without Claire Dunphy. That show wouldn’t have lasted ten years without her. I doubt it would’ve lasted ten minutes. Jay may have been called the patriarch, but it’s Claire’s family.

Claire Dunphy: without you, there is no way.

Voice In The Wind Magazine Inc.

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