I re-watched the 1991 movie My Girl after nearly two decades. The coming of age story of a little girl learning to cope with change. I think it is one of those movies that I’ve watched over and over growing up, or perhaps I’ve watched it only once, and yet had it stay with me. It felt good to watch it again today, reconnecting with some part of me, wondering if this is how I felt as a teen as well, feeling the tears inevitably flow towards the end.
Perhaps my current sense of loss might have made it a little too easy to connect to her again. Loss is loss, isn’t it? Whether you are a little girl of eleven and a half, or woman of thirty, sadness envelops your heart in much the same fashion. It opens your heart, makes you vulnerable, and yet some part of you likes holding on to that sweet pain, perhaps because it is also the result of beautiful memories that you want to cling to, even if doing so burns your fingers.
There is a scene at the end when Vada and her father finally talk about death and loss. I still think of your mother, he says, when I see pretty flowers or beautiful sunsets she would have liked. Maybe climbing trees will always remind me of Thomas J, she responds.
“Memories are good, sweetheart.”
Even if they make your head reel, or draw out your inner demons, or make you question everything about yourself. Even if you sometimes wish you never had them, simply because of the heartache they entail. Even if you rise out of them in scattered pieces and find yourself at a loss from time to time, trying to understand how to seal the holes effectively. Even if they lead you to wonder about alternate endings and magical horizons and inexplicably leave you wanting.
They are a testimony that there was a time when you weren’t afraid of letting yourself fall, take a leap into the unknown for someone else. That you were once surrounded by sheer beauty and laughter. You’re entitled to all those little pieces of the people you treasure, of the time capsules that you hold within you as you move forward. What else is there, really?
And so I sing to myself,
Oh weeping willow, fear not when they part, for you still get to hold them in your heart.
You still get to hold them in your heart.