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?”
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.