Three years ago last night, on the Fourth of July, we were together as a family for the last time and we watched the movie “Up.” I spent last night watching that movie again… for the first time since I saw it with you that night in 2010. I really loved it the first time but watching it again last night there were so many things that stood out to me and seemed more fitting to my life now than I could have ever possibly imagined when I first watched it with you just 3 months before your death.
Carl was heartbroken after Ellie, the love of his life, died. He was hanging on to pictures, their house and their belongings so tightly as if letting them go meant letting go of her as well. When Carl and Ellie met as children, Ellie had shown him her “Adventure Book.” It contained pictures of things that excited her and places which she planned on visiting. Following the page that said “Stuff I’m Going to Do” was nothing but empty pages she had saved for documenting all the adventures she was going to have. Upon getting married, Carl and Ellie had planned on visiting those places together and finishing her book; but things (and life) got in the way. They continually had to dip in to their adventure money to fix the car, fix the house, etc… things always seemed to come up and push their trip off further and further. Carl had always wondered if he let Ellie down by not getting her to South America for their adventure and helping her fill those empty pages. That is, until he took a look at her book one more time and saw that after the “Stuff I’m Going to Do” page she had added pictures of their life together; pictures of their wedding, shared birthdays, shared laughter, them holding hands in the park and of them sitting side by side in their comfy chairs in their living room. No adventure to South America but yet she didn’t regret a single thing because she had loved Carl and she had so treasured her life with him. Knowing her time was coming to an end, she had written him one last note and ended the book by signing, “Thanks for the adventure. Now go have a new one! Love, Ellie.” It was that note that seemed to finally allow him to see that he hadn’t let her down at all and that it really was OK for him to let go. As he looked around the house you could intensely feel him coming to the realization that it was now only a shell of what it used to be… after all, they were just things. He’d been hanging on to something that was holding him back. The pictures and furniture and house he shared with Ellie were not Ellie herself; she now lived in his heart and his memory and by letting go of those things he was free to continue living his life without her.
I have so much trouble letting go of things that belonged to you because some small part of me feels as though by doing so that I’m betraying you or letting you slip further and further away from me. Unlike Carl, I’m not ready to completely separate Just as Carl had been burdening himself with the thought that he had let Ellie down by never making it to South America, I’ve been burdening myself with the thought that I let you down by not being able to save you. And while I know that you want me to continue living and have new adventures, I’m still finding that I’m holding back yet. There are times yet when I find myself feeling so guilty for enjoying myself or having a good time or even smiling… because a tiny part of me feels as if it is a betrayal. I know in my heart that it isn’t, but it feels that way. I’m getting better… just very slowly.
Want to know something amazing? When we finished the movie we turned the TV to a channel broadcasting a 4th of July concert in Philadelphia. Literally a second after we clicked on that channel I we saw Grace Potter on the stage strapping on her acoustic guitar saying, “This is a song for a friend who left us too early.” I knew immediately that she was about to sing “Stars.” I had posted that song on this blog a while back because it has been so meaningful to me since losing you. When she finished the song she said, “That goes out to anyone out there that is missing someone on this 4th of July.” And I sure am missing you, Brian.
p.s. A very special thank you to John Tyler and Lindsay for letting me borrow their copy of the movie “Up.” Meant the WORLD to me to see that movie again! 🙂