We spend the morning after Downton Abbey mourning the passing of a popular Downton resident. Needless to say, spoiler alert.
Of all the Crawley gals, Lady Sybil
Crawley Branson always seemed like the one you'd most like to nip down to the pub to share a pint with... not that she was permitted to frequent the pub all that often, of course. Where her elder sisters Mary and Edith were both extremely high-maintenance -- particularly when it came to matters of the heart -- Sybil took things in stride, almost serenely confident that everything would work out for the best. (In that way, she was very much her mother's daughter.) Even when strapping Irish chauffeur Tom Branson upset the natural social order of things to win her aristocratic hand, she barely seemed phased by the class chasm she'd have to leap over to be with him. Instead, what held her back was figuring out whether her feelings for Tom were as strong as Tom's were for her, so that he wouldn't be wasting his love on someone that couldn't return it. That was Sybil in a nutshell; always the first to adjust to the changing times and constantly putting other peoples' welfare ahead of her own.
Lady Sybil went to her final rest with the same selflessness, expiring hours after delivering her and Branson's first child, a daughter, due to complications stemming from eclampsia. To say it was an emotional farewell would be an understatement. Tears flowed freely in the halls of Downton and -- unless you had a heart made of stone or something -- in millions of American homes as well. Even perpetual cold fish Thomas choked up at the news, remembering their shared tour of duty as medical workers during the World War I days when the manor served as a hospital. As sad as we are for her husband and daughter, Cora was the one who really reduced us to sniveling wrecks. Sitting beside Sybil's body long after everyone else had left the room, Lady Crawley promised to look after those she left behind and then refused Mary's entreaties to hit the sack, saying "This is my chance to say goodbye to my baby....Because you are my baby. And you always will be. Always." (Any chance you've got a tissue handy? Thanks -- damn allergies.) So farewell, fair Sybil. You died far too young and with far too few actual storylines. Maybe your daughter will succeed where the writers often let you down.
What We'll Miss Most About Sybil
* Her inexhaustible supply of kindness, which made her a favorite amongst the downstairs staff and even quieted her shrewish sisters on occasion
* Her no-drama demeanor, which was always a refreshing change from high-strung Mary.
* Her taste in men, because clearly Tom > Matthew. (And if you disagree, you're just plain wrong.)
* Her adaptability to change, which meant that Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are a-Changin'" would have almost certainly become her jam... if she had lived to hear it.
* Her wide assortment of hats, and her unerring ability to pick the exact right one for every occasion.
Favorite Sybil Memories
* Rebelling against her family by... attending her first political rally. (Guess the Rolling Stones were a few years off yet, so a rock concert wouldn't have been a potential act of youthful rebellion.)
* Gently turning down Tom the first time he expresses his affection for her rather than laughing in his upstart face, as the Dowager Countess surely would have.
* Rolling up her sleeves to work alongside Mrs. Patmore and Daisy in the kitchen in an effort to master all the basic skills we take for granted today... you know, like how to make breakfast for ourselves.
* Eloping with Tom, but very thoughtfully leaving a note behind for her sisters to find, both as a way of explanation and also, perhaps, so that they'll come find her in case she realizes she's made a horrible mistake. Hey, it's always good to have an exit strategy.
* Willingly moving to Ireland with Tom, despite the country's political unrest, hard economic times and mediocre hat selection.
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