One night last week G and I snuggled up on the couch for a little mid-holiday chaos downtime. We scrolled through the on-demand movie selections and settled on Nanny McPhee Returns. The original movie was really cute so we were looking forward to it.
The setting of this movie is WWII England. The story consists of a mom and three kids struggling to make ends meet- Dad is away fighting in the war. Enter Nanny McPhee to save the day. I won't go into all the details of the movie - but ultimately the dreaded telegram comes and father is pronounced dead - Mom collapses and the kids are horrified and shocked. At this point, G reaches for my hand with tears in his eyes and says "we know what that's like Mom". It was a very brief but heartbreaking moment. I was grateful it passed quickly, but my relief was short-lived.
Happily, the telegram had been wrong, and Dad miraculously reappears at the end of the movie - they live happily ever after. This is good news right? Yes, but not to a child who knows that particular happy ending isn't in his future. My little G was keenly aware of the unfair reality of his story, and he burst into tears at the end of the movie: "I can't believe I haven't seen him since I was five. I'm ten." He cried for a few minutes, we talked about Daniel, and about how much cancer sucks. We talked about how we still miss him and that it's too bad there is no magic wand to make him come home. Grayson listed all of the things he'd give up if he could just see his Dad for one more day.
Not all movies with a dead parent (and there are so freaking many of them...what's up with that?) have this effect on him. I think it was really the effect of the holidays. It's hard on everyone who has lost someone, and its even hard on the little ones. We all talk about the waves of grief that hit us. Clearly the waves are there for our kids too. I'm grateful that he will share them with me. I'm grateful that he lets me be there for him when it hurts. I'm also so sad for him that he has to experience that kind of pain so early in his life. It sucks. The good news is, he's a survivor and I'm proud of him for being such a happy optimistic kid in spite of it. The waves hit him, and he jumps on his boogie board shortly after.