When I was growing up in New York City, my father was a taxi driver for a time. It was a great way for him to be there for me as a parent: He was his own boss and set his own hours, and I could ride around with him. I was the only kid in Manhattan I knew whose parents had a car. I remember always looking for his cab number, 6F99. I would wait for him after school or rehearsal and watch for his taxi. Or I would play hooky and be afraid I'd see it. As an adult, when I went back to New York I couldn't help but look for his taxi number among thousands on the streets there. But I never saw that number again after he sold the cab when I was 16 or so.
Two years ago, my father telephoned me and asked, "How strong are you?" I knew right away what he was going to tell me: He didn't have long to live; he'd been diagnosed with cancer. He lasted five months.
A few months after his death, I was on my way to the Charlie Rose show to promote the film Unfaithful, which was just being released. The thing is, my father and I always loved that show—Charlie asks interesting questions, and you don't have to be self-deprecating to the point of absurdity to create a memory between commercials. Just as I arrived at the studio, a taxi was pulling away. The number was 6F99.
Thinking of it makes my toes wiggle. It makes me feel light as a feather, giddy and filled with a kind of faith that has nothing to do with religion or awe over mathematical probabilities. It has to do with my father still being with me, supporting me, slapping me on the back and saying, "Hey, kiddo, you can do this, I'm proud of you, I'm with you, and you earned it."
That experience of getting to do the show, timed with my father's communication from beyond, meant so much to me. I was talking with my 9-year-old daughter last night about what's waiting for us on the other side of life. She's old enough now to get as mystified and misty-eyed about these things as I do. I told her I believe that when people die, their love, energy and goodwill can stay with us. That faith is wonderfully comforting.