Echoes in the Unlikeliest Place

Over the weekend we visited my folks, who were more than happy—jubilant was more like it—taking care of Felix while S and I went out for a movie. Of course, minutes before we left the baby woke from his morning nap crying with hunger, sparking worries that the milk S had pumped wasn’t going to be enough to cover our absence. But my parents assured us he would be fine, and the theater wasn’t far from their house, so we decided to trust them and go.

We saw the Pixar film Up. I won’t give away too much of the plot by saying that the old man in the film recently lost his wife, and their life together was depicted through a montage of moments accompanied by piano music but devoid of dialogue, like a silent film. I choked up when the couple found out they couldn’t have children together, and by the time the husband became a widower I was teary. Throughout the movie he talked to his dead wife, and I became more and more affected by his one-sided conversations. Toward the end, when he uncovered a keepsake book she created for him, I finally lost it.

Images from the labor replayed in my memory, along with the smell of the blood, and I remembered the fear of holding S’s hand as the nurse wheeled in the table of scalpels. I realized then—not as an intellectual possibility but as an emotional one—that she might die during childbirth. There was an almost sickening drop in the pit of my stomach, and I felt that if I started crying I wasn’t going to be able to stop. I’ve never been so on the edge of losing control than at that point in the labor. The thought of losing her was so intense.

The love and loss of old man’s story in Up resonated so strongly with those feelings that I ended up silently bawling, tears running out under my 3D glasses.

S leaned over and asked, “What’s wrong with your sinuses?”

“I’m fine,” I said.

“Why do you keep sniffling?”

“I’m crying.”

She tightened her grip on my arm and snuggled closer and I let out a sigh. She was ok, Felix was ok, we were visiting family and everyone was reveling in his presence. It all worked out. But this cartoon reminded me of what might have been.

This is the second time in a row I’ve gotten emotional at a movie. We saw Star Trek about a week or so before the labor and the opening sequence—where a father sacrifices himself to save his wife and son—also had me crying. Perhaps it feels safer, in the darkness and anonymity of the theater, to shed a tear or two. Or maybe, because it’s someone else’s story instead of my own and the stakes are low, I feel comfortable unstoppering my emotions. Whatever the reason, this has always been the case. (Maybe I mistitled this post.) My Dad took me to see ET when I was a kid and I became so upset when the alien died that he almost took me out. Last summer, Wall-E had me heart strung and weepy.

When we came home from Up, I felt hollowed out and tender. I was grateful that my mom made the bottle last for two feedings so S and I could have that experience together. And of course I was happy to find Felix sleeping comfortably in his great-grandmother’s arms. All was well.


4 Responses to “Echoes in the Unlikeliest Place”

  1. 1 cindy June 29, 2009 at 5:44 pm

    this may or may not be related, because i don’t have kids so i don’t understand those emotions. but your movie feelings reminded me of how, after i had that encounter with the burglar in my apartment, i absolutely stopped finding any enjoyment whatsoever in watching movie/tv scenes of women in peril: women being stalked, women being chased, women being beaten.

    that sounds weird. who WOULD enjoy such things? but they are written into so many scripts, that obviously they are there for our suspense/pleasure/voyeurism/edification/whatever. and i was never a jittery cover-your-eyes kind of viewer of that stuff. but since then, i just can’t stand it. i have to turn it off. it just feels a little too close. so i think i get where you’re coming from. just a random aside.

  2. 2 John M. June 30, 2009 at 7:48 am

    I could not stop crying at Up. I cried at the montage, and then basically at 20-minute intervals throughout the film, to the point that I was worried I was creeping out the 7-year-old sitting next to me. Then, for days after the film, I would be walking down the street thinking about the movie and I’d start crying again. And I didn’t even have a Dan-related traumatic event to flash back to!
    I think you should email this post to Pixar and see if they’ll give you something free.

    • 3 briangresko July 3, 2009 at 6:20 am

      Cindy– That’s definitely related, though you’re talking about seeing events in movies that are very similar to what happened in your life. What took me off guard about Up was that I found the touching scenes absolutely heart-wrenching not because they mirrored my life, but because they brought up unprocessed or lingering feelings from the labor–like an emotional burp. I think that what you’re talking about must be even more intense. I know I couldn’t sit through a scene about labor difficulties right now. It would have me bawling and sick to my stomach with nerves.

      John– I’m glad it wasn’t just me. Those Pixar folk really know how to get us all worked up. (If I ever run for office, I’m turning to them for campaign commercials.) Though I’m doubtful Toy Story 3 will have quite the same depth as Wall-E and Up. But that’s another post all together–one that could have them thinking twice about sending me free stuff!

  1. 1 On Time and Feelings and Cartoons « Daddy-to-Be Trackback on August 10, 2009 at 5:38 pm

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