“Well, I guess that’s it.” These were the last words spoken by George Clooney’s character in the recent release, The Descendants, as he and his children poured his wife’s remains into the Hawaiian waters. The scene then cuts to them in the living room of their home, trying to move on from the painful moment and attempting to return to some aspect of normalcy, watching TV and eating a bowl of ice-cream, as they all cover up with the meticulous stitched gold and eggshell-white quilt that lay upon her in her final days. As the credits roll, I can barely move. I’m overwhelmed and inconsolable after watching two hours of scenes of this man’s wife in the same physical condition as Mazha was in while she laid in her hospice bed; the character unplugged from life support, mouth gaping open with dry lips pleading for any amount of moisture to touch its dehydrated rim, hands positioned to look as if they are clutching rolled washcloths to prevent its digits from completely buckling inward, cords and plugs and hoses protruding from and around her neck, and sweat-laced oil-soaked fibers of hair clinging to the side of her face.
This is not the first time I entered a movie not knowing anything what the storyline was about to later find out that it was beyond what I could emotionally take. A sudden illness or accident, family members gathering around a loved ones’ deathbed to say their final goodbyes, children planning a parents funeral, or new parent losing their own and feeling helpless in the situation… Usually, if the scenes become too graphic or hit home too much and that I feel like I can’t watch anymore, I would take it as my cue to get up and refill my popcorn or drink, take the much needed bathroom break that I had been painfully holding off taking (yes, I still have pregnancy bladder even though Kensington is almost 3), or if needed, just leave the theater. This movie made me want to leave within the first 10 minutes. Besides the script being absolutely dreadful, and only a tenth of the movie having to deal with the long line of fictional descendants of Hawaiian Princess KaiKai or TuTu or whatever her name was (I swear Clooney only signed on to this deal because he wanted a three month vacation on the island where he could walk around barefoot the entire time), the director desperately tried to invoke raw reaction from the audience by focusing long periods of muted scenes on a lifeless body in a hospital bed.
Upon determining to leave and suck up the wasted $24 I just spent, I realized I couldn’t. My legs were rock solid, feet bolted to the floor. I had just run 1.5 miles from my hotel to the movie theater. It was a last minute decision to see a movie and The Descendants was the only thing playing at the closest theater to me that I hadn’t seen yet that looked somewhat appealing. I had twelve minutes from the time I decided to see a show from the time the movie started. After being stuck in LA traffic for an hour forty minutes trying to travel 7 miles from Downtown to West Hollywood the night before, I decided that trying to taxi my way wouldn’t cut it, so with my dress shoes still on and my GPS on my phone, I hauled arse. Making two wrong turns and with sweat beads pouring from both my forehead and my back, I made it to the theater while the previews were still rolling. Out of breath and feeling like I was going to pass out, I drudge my way up to the top row and laid claim to a stadium seat with extra leg room. Clearly the time I’ve been spending on the treadmill hasn’t helped in a situation like this (mental note, increase time spent working out from 5 minutes to 7 minutes a week and increase speed from ‘prancing’ to ‘skipping’ mode). When it became clear that this was not the movie for me, it quickly became a realization that I was not going anywhere without a crowbar available to pry me from my seat. With moans from the back row – both emotional and utterly painful ones – I suffered through it with my palms over my face to block the screen. At two points during the movie, I actually considered turning my phone on and dialing 911 and asking for a paramedic to come and get me, but with the luck I’ve been having they would have transported me to the clinic in Compton.
When I realized I was the last one in the theater, because the movie FINALLY came to an end, I reached for the railing and lifted myself out of my chair, spilling my popcorn down the stairs. Acting like a paraplegic, I shimmied my way down with both legs glued to one another, and then hugged the wall of the corridor as I made my way to the exit. Roughly twenty minutes to the side door, I staggered outside and stood against a light post, waiting for a taxi to pull as close as possible to me. I crawled into a taxi and gave the directive to find the closest pharmacy from where we were at and was told one was one block away. The driver rolled his eyes in disgusted when I told him I would gladly pay the $2.75 to drive me to the location, knowing that he would have to circle around and get back at the end of the line at the taxi stand and would have to wait awhile for his next customer. Being the ever so gracious customer that I am, I asked him to wait – with the meter running – so I could go in, pick up a bottle of Aleve, and then would need a ride to my hotel. There was no way I would attempt to walk back in the condition that I was in. Once I returned, the meter was at $6.35. I guess it took a while. I wasn’t paying attention to the time because I was focused on the looks I was receiving from the employees and customers of the store. I owned my walk. I owned my look. I wasn’t ashamed or embarrassed, but disgusted by the watchers. This is LA… “Have a little fun before I die,” says a man next to me out of nowhere. How am I the one here that is standing out? [Sorry for the Sheryl Crowe reference, but every time I’m here that song is playing in the back on my mind – it normally happened when I’m driving on Santa Monica Boulevard]
“Well, I guess that’s it;” a five-word sentence that tried to sum up an entire movie. A line that the writer intended to put its audience at ease saying that now a death has occurred and a ceremony has taken place, everything can go back to normal. Not so.
It’s been almost two years and I hate to say it, but that’s not it. Yes, life goes on and while there are many nights I too sit on the couch, covered with Louis and a bowl of ice-cream on my lap, there isn’t a return normalcy. It’s a life of change. Routines change and structure changes, but normalcy will never have its place.
Since my last post, I changed my routine to get a different perspective on life. Not a new beginning, which seems too much like I would be running away from something… is more like a new assessment on life; as a husband, as a contributor to society and now more importantly as a parent. We have to take each day as it comes to us. We have to cherish what has been given to us, and we must look at every issue as an opportunity and not a challenge or obstacle. Life isn’t perfect. God, I wish it was… but that was never our purpose for being here.
Another day, another blog post. More to come that are a little bit more upbeat. Ones that will surely highlight Miss K and the little lady that she is becoming. We have so much to share with that will make you laugh, because it has done so for us. So until then… “well, I guess that’s it.”