Sunday, February 20, 2005

One coping mechanism for dealing with my grief has been to try to fill as much of my time as possible so that I'm left with few free moments during which I will surely think about Will. Not that I'm trying to forget him; there's no worry of that. But when left alone or without some sort of distraction, my thoughts inevitably turn toward wondering what might have been, what I'm missing out on because Will is no longer with us. A certain amount of that kind of thought is to be expected; encouraged to a certain extent, I'd guess. But too much at once tends to overwhelm me. So, I look for other things to occupy me.

I've long been an avid book lover and film goer, and have found myself eagerly diving back into both. Months ago, friends with kids warned me that those days were numbered. I might think there would be plenty of down time during which to watch a movie or read a book, but I would be mistaken. When Will arrived, the hectic schedule predicted by those friends would have been a delight in comparison to what we faced. Every spare moment, it seemed, should be spent with Will. So, the books went on the shelf and the movies went onto a list titled "see them when they come out on DVD." While Will was with us, I read four books, two about musicians that I had started and discarded for one reason or another before he was born and subsequently finished during those waning moments each night when I wasn't ready for sleep, and two that were short fiction collections that included material I'd previously read elsewhere.

Since Will died last month, I've read at least that many or more, with a book almost constantly at my side. The same goes for films. Mary saw none while Will was with us, while I watch one on video on a night when I was sick and Mary went to the hospital by herself to see Will. Since, we've seen several, knowing that two hours spent escaping to some other place in the dark is a good way to push painful thoughts aside for a while. But that hasn't been as effortless as one might imagine. We tried to be thorough from the start, reading reviews of films to make sure they wouldn't be too upsetting for us. Our first film was "Meet the Fockers;" more mindless escape could not be hoped for, right? Well, save for the opening scene of a woman giving birth, the subplot of Robert DeNiro's character caring for his daughter's baby while she is away (complete with a fake breast with which to breastfeed the tyke so he doesn't realize Mom is away) and another subplot about the main characters expecting a baby, sure, it was mindless entertainment. None of these things were explained in the reviews; why would they be? None were integral to the plot. We found the same thing in almost everything we've seen. "The Life Aquatic" features a pregnant woman reading to her baby, a big part of Ray Charles' motivation in "Ray" is based on the death of his younger brother.

These are just the films we deemed OK; we've actually steered clear of a few because we know they deal with childbirth, parenting or other topics we fear might hit too close to home. Mary's Mom pointed out that we'll deal with this kind of thing for a while. That is our frame of reference right now. If instead we were worried about references to a some other family tragedy, every film or book or TV show would seem to have that, too. Still, it has made us wonder if there ought not to be a service people could consult to find out if a film or book or other form of entertainment is OK for them depending on their sensibilities. Just lost your pet? You might not want to see "There's Something About Mary" with it's scene of a dog flying out the window, it might suggest.

Our world has changed, or at least the way we see it has. That is going to take some getting used to, and that is going to take a while.


Anonymous Leah said...

John and Mary,

I've thought a lot about how painful it must be for you to keep living in the world without your son. It seems like we're all surrounded by babies, diaper commercials, pregnant women, and strollers. Yet, in the face of such painful reminders, you both continue to deal with his loss with quiet strength and courage. I know that is all you can do, and I realize that my comment certainly won't have any healing effects. I guess I just want you both to know that I'm still out here "listening" to every new post on Will's blog. I'd like to believe that Will is still "listening," too, and that his love and grace is helping you get through each day.

3:58 PM  

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