Most of you have likely heard the news: Jonathan Crombie, best known for his portrayal of Gilbert Blythe in the Anne of Green Gables films, has died.
I screamed in shock and dismay when I first saw the post my sister tagged me in.
Utter heartbreak. And then the tears. O the tears!
“My life is a perfect graveyard of buried hopes.” (Anne Shirley/L.M. Montgomery)
If you never read the book series or watched the films, Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea (you’re excused Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story), then you know why this news is a flabbergasting blow to Anne fans around the world. For most of us, “Gil” was our first love. Not actually, of course, but it felt like it. Gil was the standard for the man we wanted to marry. The one who would be sad they could not promise us any “diamond sunbursts and marble halls” to which we would simply, sweetly, and sincerely respond,
Marilla would chide us, but I think we can all safely agree that we are most certainly “in the depths of despair.” And while, still disagreeing with Marilla, we are not, in fact, turning our backs on God, we are deeply saddened at this news.
A brain hemorrhage, at 48! He was so young!
I couldn’t tell you any other roles that “Gil” played. I’ve personally never seen him in a film other than the Anne Series. But he was the greatest actor in the world to me and many of you, I’m sure. But he never felt like an actor, he felt like friend. A dear, dear, bosom friend. A friend who taught us, while he taught Anne, that it was okay for a woman to think independently, for herself, even if those thoughts went against the grain and ruffled equally the sensible feathers of Marilla Cuthbert and gossipy feathers of Mrs. Rachel Lynde.
Gil taught us that we too could be bold enough to pursue and sacrifice for our dreams and heart’s desires.
Gil showed us that even while we may be quite taken with the Roy Gardners and Morgan Harrises of the world, the “tall, dark, and handsome” Doctor Blythe was more than enough for us.
And even in the midst of friends that come and go, there would be one friend, one man, one love who would always remain.
Before we were ever teased by a schoolboy and called the equivalent of “Carrots!” there was Gil. And before we ever fell in love and had our first kiss, there was Gil. And no matter how many times we read the books, Jonathan Crombie was always our mental rendering.
In a word, he was perfection.
I know some of you fellas reading this may think I’ve lost it. Or perhaps your crying mothers, significant others, sisters, cousins, and friends have. But think of the first book you “fell in love with” as a boy. Think of the friends you made through those stories. That is what Anne and Gil have been to women around the world for over a hundred years, and so much more so since the making of the films.
We had our scare when Gilbert caught Scarlet Fever from the hospital he interned at, but even though, technically, Gil Blythe lives on, on paper, his physical embodiment is gone forever.
A star has fallen from the heavens, never to be replaced.
We’ll miss you Gil.