When Context Changes

I had an interesting Sunday, to say the least.

To be honest it was a bit overwhelming and exhausting.

To put things into perspective let me say that I went to bed after 3am Sunday morning and I had to be up by 7:30am (exhaustion) to make a meeting and then I went to church. However, after church I had an opportunity to spend some quality girl time with one of my friends who had a baby in March, and I hadn’t seen her (or met her baby boy) since before that time. That was great! (Pleasantly overwhelming).

Stepmom+Soundtrack+stepmomI got back to my apartment after 5p. I turned on the TV and saw that one of my top 10 movies was on…Stepmom starring Julia Roberts (as the stepmom) and Susan Sarandon (the children’s terminally ill mother).

Stepmom was released in 1998 and while I don’t remember when exactly I watched it for the first time, I’m sure it was within the first two years of its release.

In all honesty when I decided to watch it again yesterday, I couldn’t remember why I had liked it so much that first time I watched it with my family…actually, it’s my mother I most remember watching it with that first time. I remember her really liking the movie as well. Maybe that’s what made it so memorable, those days my mother and I rarely connected, much less found something we both liked.

I could have never expected to respond the way I did when I watched the movie again yesterday. Ultimately I still enjoyed the movie but the lens I was now watching it through had changed dramatically – hence the title of this post – When Context Changes

When I first watched the movie Stepmom as a young tween the only framework I had of the concept of a stepparent was the one the movie provided, otherwise it was foreign to me. I grew up with both my parents. Even if I had friends that had a stepparent in their life it wasn’t an experience that was shared with me. “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” is played a couple times throughout the movie and while it was certainly song I knew and loved that song became more important to me over time. Terminal illness I understood a little more than the concept of stepparents, but not much more. I had an uncle pass away from Cancer in 1996 at the age of 26. I was young at the time and as he lived in Jamaica I did not witness (rather I did not notice) his body deteriorating. As a tween I had pictures and memories but I did not understand the weight of their importance.

Watching the movie this time around was very different because I was watching it from within a completely different context from all those years ago…(Overwhelming Part II and to the nth power)

To be frank, I cried my eyes out! at various points throughout the movie because it now hit way too close to home.

For one my boyfriend has a daughter. In fact, yesterday was her birthday (Happy 3rd Birthday AJ)! I can’t put into words how much I love this man except to say that I love him with all of me, he is my very best friend, the one my soul loves and the man I intend to marry and spend the rest of my days with. I haven’t met his daughter in person yet, but I have seen her and she’s absolutely wonderfully amazing in every way, I love her already!! With that being said I often worry about the details of becoming one with him and being accepted by his daughter and her mother.

Ugh. Somehow this blog brings out the painfully honest and transparent side of me. That’s annoying. Anyhoo…

So yeah, that would mean one day I would be a stepmom. Loving his daughter as my own would not be an issue its more so understanding my role, where I fit in within the context of her life and his relationship with her, and developing a sincere relationship with her mother. Whew. Now that that’s out there…the point is you can see how that changes things for me as far as watching the movie goes.

Then…

My love for music has allowed me to sometimes find songs that fit my relationships with certain people exactly, whether it’s because they directly correlate with a memory or they simply describe the relationship to a tee. Those songs become a kind of theme song for those relationships. When I was five years old I met this older girl who I immediately loved. Over the years we grew extremely close she adopted me as a little sister and knew me better than anyone else, she knew every secret, every fear…

Our theme song became “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” because we promised nothing would keep us from GayeTerrell_AintNoMountainHighEnoughgetting to each other for that shared sisterly support. Literally she was there whenever I needed her!

Time has passed and we’ve both grown. Just last week she gave birth to her second little girl. I wasn’t there. I was there for the birth of her first child but somehow I couldn’t find comfort in that. So much for not letting anything keep me from getting to her…

moutain highLife happened. Life got in the way. And I let it keep me from her. Hearing our song in the movie last night made me cry. I wished things weren’t as complicated as they have become, weren’t as complicated as perhaps I’ve made them by moving away from S. Florida. As if one time wasn’t enough the song was in two major scenes. Sigh.

Mallouting (2)Next…

Terminal illness. Writing that deflates me. If you’ve known me for any time or read some of my blog posts you may know that I had someone very close to me die from complications stemming from the Cystic Fibrosis disease. Cystic Fibrosis is considered a terminal illness. Kaiya passed away at only 17. Great…here I am crying…again…as I type this. Anyway, there’s a scene in the movie where Susan Sarandon’s character tells her ex-husband that she has Cancer and his response is that it should be me and immediately I started balling. From the time I met Kaiya and discovered how amazing she was and how devastating the Cystic Fibrosis disease was I wished it had been me. When she died, I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was angry with God for not taking me instead. Kaiya was so vibrant, so fill of life and love, and she had so much to offer this often dismal world. Needless to that scene in the movie broke my heart all over again and reminded me of all the times I wished, prayed, pleaded with God to take her place or at the very least take her pain away. Which He did, just not in the way I wanted or expected…

Finally…

The importance of pictures and memories. Julia Robert’s character is a professional photographer and when it becomes apparent that Susan Sarandon’s character is dying Julia’s character uses her photography skills to capture (what everyone knows will be) precious moments and memories when Sarandon’s character passes. It hurt watching that because it reminded me of my many memories of Kaiya and the few pictures I have with her. The major difference is that in the movie everyone understands the importance of the pictures and the memories they’re creating but when I was taking those pictures and making those memories with Kaiya I had no idea what was to come.

DSCF0831 car&kaiDSCF1031

 

 

 

 

 

Kaiya was a major part of my life. I pictured her there cracking jokes when I graduated from college and I certainly saw her as a bridesmaid on my wedding day and being present for her wedding on her wedding day…

Strange as this may sound I’m happy I reacted the way I did to the movie. It reminded me that I’m alive. That I’m able to feel. For someone who has struggled with hardening her heart and growing numb (in a futile effort to protect herself and make a rough life go easier on her feelings), it was good to know that all my conscious effort to remain open has kept me sensitive.

It’s good to feel. Though what we feel may not always feel good.

Life is a context that is ever changing. Cherish every moment Pilgrims!

-CM

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