February 1st, 2011

221 - Loss of the littlest things

Last night I watched Field of Dreams again. At the end of the movie I found the same old thing happening. A catch in the throat, a suppressed sob, a sense of unutterable loss. It happens, of course, when Kevin Costner stops his dad's ghost from walking away. They have been speaking in first names, but Ray (Kevin) speaks out, "Dad." John turns and Ray says, "Do you want to play catch?" And they do.

Of course Ray has spent his adult life regretting the things he didn't do with his father, and the whole movie is a play on the "he" in the phrase "he will come." It is about magically getting a second chance to connect with Dad in the simplest of father/son ways. I think anyone who has lost a father (at any age but especially in youth) likely chokes up over the thought of opportunities lost.

It is the theme of Our Town, of course, wherein Emily is given just one day in life to re-live and re-value the ordinary, the family she once had as a girl. Just as tear inducing. And it seems that the emotions that come up in these two dramas are just about the deepest and most repressed of all our griefs. We live daily with the simple fact that Dad is gone, Mom has died. But those dramas press us with the reality that they are gone FOREVER. Nothing will bring back the simple pleasure of tossing a ball back and forth in the yard, or helping Mom make a pie in a warm kitchen. And the loss of those simple things are what hurt us so deeply that we can hardly bear it. So we do what I did last night, notice it, then repress it as far down as we can, then re-define death in its usual more abstract terms.