Notes from a Native Daughter

"Anno Domini" by Princess Rachella

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Anno Domini

Even though I'm a die-hard fan of black and white movies from the 30's and 40's, every now and then a modern film will pack a punch just as laden with pathos as some of those old barn-burners.

In the past decade, a cinematic moment that sticks with me, for reasons that will soon be obvious, is from the 2001 drama "In The Bedroom." It's the scene just after a husband learns that his only child has been brutally murdered, and he has to go break the news to his wife.

Actor Tom Wilkinson beautifully conveyed the searing pain mixed with stoicism that most men wind up adopting in those situations, during that long walk down a high school hallway. He's headed to where his wife, played by Sissy Spacek, is leading a group of choir girls at the end of their practice. The husband winds up just outside her classroom door as the girls finish their last note, and Sissy Spacek lowers her baton with a nurturing smile and nod, pleased with their effort, blissfully unaware that every ounce of positive emotion and meaning in her life up to that moment is about become irrevocably null and void.

What she's about to learn will replace her entire life's history with the ashes and dust of profound agony and emptiness. Nothing will ever feel the same as it did before she absorbs her husband's news. She can choose to kill herself, or spend the rest of her life depressed and bitter, or figure out a way to keep going with some semblance of functioning, but she will never be the woman who stood in that classroom fulfilled by her own efforts and energized by the accomplishments of her young charges in those seconds before receiving that devastating news.

I thought that was a brilliant scene, and it instantly resonated with me. And that was 6 years before I had the exquisitely painful task of closing my sister's eyelids just seconds after her soul rose heavenward last October. In the year since that moment, I think I've made the right choice about how to spend the rest of my emotional life. Happily, I didn't crumble under the weight of such unspeakable pain.

But I'm not the same person as, say, the woman in the picture at the top of this posting, taken on July 7th of last year--7/7/07, the so-called "cosmically lucky day." My smile will never be as open and unfraught as this one was, or my eyes as clear. I will never get the same measure of fulfillment out of doing this kind of work as I did before last October. I will never ever experience satisfaction in the same way. I will never laugh as deeply, or cry without remembering the piercing, soul-wrenching sobs I now know I'm capable of emitting.

And like Sissy Spacek's character, I've accepted the fact that even if I were to live another 100 years, there won't be a single cell in my body that won't retain the memory of just how much I've lost. This doesn't mean I won't ever feel happy, or find peace. It's just that the heart will feel what it feels, both good and bad, and without a full-frontal lobotomy or a round-the-clock IV drip filled with liquid crack, there's not a damn thing you can do about it.

Oh, well. I just have to get through the next few days. I'm even expecting Julie's spirit to find a way to break me off a big-assed reward for surviving for one whole year after she passed.

Hell, I might even be able to lighten up in these blogposts! Imagine that.....

Posted by Princess Rachella at 1:22 PM