“Colin Firth is in it” buzzed my phone. “And the woman who plays Mrs. Weasley is Mrs. Meadlock.”
On a friend’s recommendation, I watched the new The Secret Garden expecting to be transported back to one of the VHS I once played on repeat.
As the scene opened with vibrant colors and enchanting jewel toned walls, I paused.
“I always confuse this story line with A Little Princess” I texted my friend.
Any time one returns to a Classic, we see the story with new eyes. Perhaps this year’s felt absence during the holidays influenced this viewing. I sank into the couch and watched Mary and Colin (not Firth, that’s the boy character’s name) struggle to connect with one another.
This time, rather than obnoxious playmates, I saw lonely children wander in echoing chambers, banging feet, and wailing to be seen.
Spoiler alert – both characters have lost their mothers. The boy is kept locked in a room as his grieving father does the best he can to keep his son safe. The girl craves attention, and with snobbery and fits, demands others to meet her needs. In their coping, one is told to stay indoors due to poor health. The other longs for connection, fresh air, to be seen.
As I’ve grieved, I’ve longed to been allowed both responses. I had one fit, the day of the funeral, and was promptly told to keep it together.
I’ve spent months in the echoing rooms, wailing, and wondering if anyone will come see.
And this year, I’ve desperately wanted to lock all those I love into dark rooms with heavy blankets and cups of tea.
“Sometimes I’m restrained,” says the boy. “Father says it’s best for me.”
If only I could restrain all of us. To keep us safe from harm.
Upon discovering Colin, Mary says, “You’re pale.”
I am too. From being indoors and trying to prevent pain.
As they attempt to understand each other, stories of love and letters lost help the young children literally support one another to standing. Their healing comes in fields of grass, surrounded by flowers, fresh air and more jewel tones. This space allows the light to come in. Mary’s passion and persistence for connection and what could be helps her use the key.
I wasn’t prepared for my grief gremlin to poke it’s head out when watching that movie. A trigger warning may have been nice.
Grief is ever present. A forever dance of wanting to protect the ones we love from further hurt, a nod to intense isolation, and a loud wail in an echoing room where no one comes to see. It’s also a nap in a garden. A swoosh on a swing. Learning to walk when told instead pain cripples beyond repair.
Come to the garden. Choose the beautiful thing.