The day after my father’s funeral, my dear sister-in-law took my six and eight year old daughters to a movie, Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium. My babies spent an entire week being good. Driven from one family gathering to another, they endured the death of their beloved Papa. They needed a break.
We read the movie blurbs. This one was rated G and playing at the local theater. The girls settled in, one on either side of their aunt, ready to suspend reality for an hour and a half. All good, right?
In the movie Dustin Hoffman plays a 243 year old proprietor of a magical toy store. What the reviewers don’t say (spoiler alert here) is that in the middle of the movie, his character dies. It isn’t a clutch your heart death scene. In one shot he’s alive, and in the next, the camera pans a tombstone with his name on it. It’s a little like what happened to Papa.
My poor sister-in-law thought, “What have I done? Oh my gosh! What have I done?”
The characters and the story move on. My children, usually perceptive, don’t even blink. On this day, Auntie is spared, and the cemetery scene is over with another snap of the camera.
Sometimes, the fear of what could happen is more powerful than what actually does happen. My dad would have loved the irony of it. My sister-in-law’s short-term panic attack would have made him giggle.