The animated film, Finding Nemo, is a beautiful expression of a father’s love for his child, but I had mixed emotions when seeing it offered on one of the cable networks on Fathers Day.
First, I saw that film in the theater with my young children, so it threatens to stir memories which now (after ten years since the divorce and six years since I last saw my children, or even knew where they lived), will be more painful in my grief than they will evoke happy memories.
Second, the storyline underscores the importance of help and encouragement from others that, simply, does not exist in any sufficient form for most of us. We do not live in that kind of world.
I love a hopeful story, but there is a reason that some stories are written as tragedies.
Stories that end with victory against-all-odds, fool us into forgetting that those odds exists because MOST fail. The cavalry does not always appear on the hill just when all seems lost. Good guys do not always (or even often) win and bad guys do not always lose. Stories that tell this sad truth are important.
None the less, I watched Finding Nemo on Fathers Day. It hurt. I cried. Near the end, when Marlin hears his son’s, Nemo’s, voice calling after him and turns as they rush toward each other, my grief was every bit as sharp as when it started a decade ago. I was not “remembering the grief” but living it.
That grief is never “past.”
When I was seventeen, I lost my one-true-love. She chose to leave me. I grieved and got over it, even though she came back. I have lost many loved ones to death, to choices, to geographic distance, and so on; but to lose children who yet live and who made no choice? No father can stop grieving that.
The bond between father and child is such that, for most of us, the heart is permanently wounded. There is no healing.
Fnding Nemo xpresses that natural bond, in that it shows the single-mindedness demanded of us to reunite with our children. We do it because we know, intuitively, that we cannot tolerate the heartbreak that we can suffer; and our love teaches us that we know we cannot allow our children that same heartbreak.
But in real life, we are powerless.
In real life:
- the sharks (our -exes) are not resisting temptation to consume us;
- the jellyfish forest (our society) really is impassible and there is no “safe” trench passing below it;
- turtle-dudes (our new friends) may adopt us and carry us when we are too weak to continue, but they have no more answers than we do so, ultimately, we remain alone in this mission; and
- the whales (the courts) which swallow us do not consider our needs and offer us escape—they only exist to digest us.
- the fish-tank community (our children’s friends) are not experienced adults, are not focused upon reuniting them with their father, and are not assuring our children that we are doing everything possible.
Do not tell me I didn't try to save them. I tried everything but violence.
Do not tell me to get over it. I am a human with a heart. There is no getting over it.
Do not tell me to start again. I cannot. My heart, when wakened, is in constant grief and a grieving heart knows nothing of starting anew.
Written by: Crew Giles