First let me say that Alex Trebek’s diagnosis is more than devastating. For me, it’s a little personal too. The vast majority of the time someone says a celebrity they’ve never met is a part of their lives, it’s weird and creepy. No matter how much your mom might be emotionally invested in Oprah or Ellen or whomever, we really don’t know these people. But I feel like we do know Trebek. And that it’s not a stretch to say he feels like a part of my life, for a half an hour each weekday. And a few minutes more when I do the extra Jeopardy! questions through Alexa. A couple of times I’ve gotten to host trivia for charity fundraisers, and you can be damned sure I was doing my best to channel him with ever answer. That erudite, slightly disappointed teacher thing he does like, “Ooh … No. That was the Magna Carta. Magna. Carta. How much is it going to cost you? …” Because no one will ever achieve the godlike status among trivia nerds that he has in his unequaled career.
That said, I had a discussion with someone earlier about whether or not Trebek should continue working the way he says he will. Frankly I don’t even know how it’s a question. I’m never going to tell anyone how to live their lives after a diagnosis like this. But I simply can’t imagine him not hosting a quiz show for as long as he’s physically able. So this is a yes. An emphatic yes.
I mean, what do you do when faced with your own mortality? If you don’t like your work, it’s one thing. I suppose then you’d quit your job the next day, tell your bosses to straight to hell, and spend the remaining time you have left watching the sunrise at the beach and birds soaring above the Grand Canyon and holding babies and contemplating the nature of existence or something.
But if you love your work, if your vocation and your avocation are the same thing, if millions of strangers consider you a part of their everyday lives and appreciate you for what you do, I don’t think there’s even a question. There is no second option. Again just to get personal here, I had a family member die of the same cancer Trebek has. And to the extent she could, she lived her life. Worked while she was still able. Took care of her kids. Lived. If a very big part of your life is reading questions and awkwardly interviewing introverts about their weirdo hobbies, I think you do it until the doctors or your body tell you it’s no longer possible.
Let’s all just hope that time is decades from now. #TrebekStrong