Tag Archives: movies

A Place Called Home

Kevin proposed to me on Christmas Eve, so that’s been on my mind a lot lately, as Christmas dances ever nearer. Beary is delighted, beside herself with visions of sugarplums, and I’m just trying to hold on through the whirl. Trying to keep Christmas in my heart, but the heart-pieces left are shattered and not big enough to hold all the joy that the season should bring.

I’m managing by keeping our big traditions, but letting others slide. For this year, at least. For my Bear, I have to keep some Christmas, so we decorated our tree and staked down our inflatable yard decorations. We made some candy and hung our stockings. And I sorted through the Christmas movies, trying to decide which ones I could handle this year. So many we enjoyed as a family; so many we wanted to share with our Bear as she got older.

I realized she’d never seen “A Christmas Carol” and it was one Kevin loved; he collected several versions to enjoy. He so much wanted to share it with her, but the timing was never right and now it’s just the two of us to carry on for him. I decided to do it, to watch it with her, and I approached it methodically, thinking that was my best bet for getting through Kevin’s tradition. We planned for it as a lesson, our reading unit for December. We read the book, read a Magic Tree House adventure about Charles Dickens, studied Victorian England, and culminated with the Kelsey Grammer version of the movie, eating popcorn and cuddling in Daddy’s chair.

I was ready for the story to unfold, for the memories of Christmas past and Christmas present and Christmas future — on the screen and in my mind. I steeled myself, determined to keep emotion in check, to see the magic unfold through her eyes.

I forgot about the music. The beautiful songs.

There’s a place called home
I can almost see
With a red front door
And a roaring fire
And a Christmas tree
Yes, a place called home
Full of love and family
And I’m there at the door
Watching you come home to me

Through the years
I’ll recall this day
In your arms
When I finally found my way
To a place called home
And to life with you
You’ll have everything
You could ever want
All I want is you
And a place called home
You and I will always be
In the dark of the night
Let your heart come home to me

Through the years
I’ve recalled this day
In your arms
When I finally found my way
To a place called home
And to life with you
Where the days are long
And the love is strong
And the dreams are true

Just a place called home
You and I will always be
In the dark of the night
Let your heart come home
To me
To the place in my heart
Where you’re always home
With me

I forgot.

Then I remembered.

Because with Kevin, I felt like I’d finally found home. My home, our home, where anything was possible. We searched for each other for so long. And when you find the one who finally fits, well, that’s home and you never want to lose it. We’d finally found our way there. Together. To a place called home.

It’s hard right now, to be in our home but to feel like my real home, my heart, is gone. Not completely, I know, because he left behind a beautiful little girl, the image of him, and she fills this home we created with laughter and joy and energy. I love her so much and I thank God for her every day. She explodes with merriment. Her antics and escapades and imagination fill up the air and swell to the heavens and I know Kevin watches with wonder and delight, chuckling over his Little Bear.

But there is still emptiness in my home, an emptiness in my heart. Everything is different now. And where before I heard the song and sang its lyrics at Christmas because it was our story, our journey to a place called home filled with love and family, now it’s all so different.

Now I hear it and my heart splinters as Old Ebenezer Scrooge’s voice breaks with the realization of all he’s lost.

Now memories of Kevin’s smile and his eyes and his arms rush to fill the hole he left behind, and I whisper through my heartache and tears, “…there’s a place in my heart where you’re always home with me…”

Family Movie Night

“Let’s have Family Movie Night!” I announced.

We needed it. I’d just struggled through picking out Kevin’s gravestone, and we still had heart-wrenching weekend events to get through: attending my first wedding without him and going to a hospice-sponsored candle lighting ceremony. Too many emotions swirled around me – grief, sadness, uncertainty, loneliness, apathy. I needed a break. We needed some fun.

Family Movie Night was her Daddy’s idea for a family tradition. He loved-loved-loved watching movies. Mostly The Godfather, but he wasn’t above a good spy thriller or romantic comedy. He told stories about going to the movie theatre with his dad to watch movies they could never tell his mom about; about watching The Godfather III on Christmas Day the year it was released. To this day, I can tell you who he saw The Crying Game with, and who went with him to Daniel Craig’s second James Bond movie. Those stories, those moments, those movies – all woven into my life with him.

When we married, he was floored that I hadn’t seen The Godfather or Once Upon a Time in America or Cotton Club. I quickly turned the tables on him, aghast that he’d never curled up on the couch with ice cream and My Fair Lady or The African Queen.

In the years before the Bear arrived, we spent weekends at the theatre, passing a tub of popcorn, blinking when the lights came back up because we’d stayed through all the credits. After our daughter came along, most any evening could find us snuggled on the couch in front of the television, dinner plates on our laps, with a DVD in the player. When he picked the movie, it was usually an action flick or war film and when I’d bury my head in a pillow at too much violence or blood, he’d mute the sound and I’d wait for him to say, “Okay, baby doll, that part’s over now.” And when I’d pick – a musical or romantic comedy – I’d kiss his cheek and teasingly reassure him, “No, baby, of course women don’t really talk about guys like that.”

Movies were his thing. It became our thing, then a family thing.

“What’s new, babe?” I drawled out when I answered his afternoon calls. Chit-chat. Meetings. Ran into so-and-so at the library. Saw something on the Drudge Report. Mail came. Laughs, giggles, idle words, shared lives. Then, if it was a Friday, he always asked:

“How about Family Movie Night tonight?”

“Sure,” I teased, “there’s a new Dora cartoon on DVD. Can you get it on the way home?”

He’d laugh and agree to grab it. And some pizza and breadsticks. The best nights were when he surprised me with an icy-cold Mountain Dew, as well.

“Movie for Little Bear,” he’d say, handing her the DVD. Then he’d hand me the pizza boxes, lean in for a kiss, and with some clever sleight of hand, present me with the soda, “And a little something for my baby doll.”

We spread a towel on the floor in the front room for a picnic. He lounged in his recliner and passed his plate for another slice of pepperoni. She laughed and giggled at Swiper’s mischief-making. They watched for continuity errors and I shook my head, adoring both of them. Two peas in a pod with their movies.

She and I carried out our familiar routine that Friday night with Molly, An American Girl on the Homefront. We sat on a towel on the floor, pizza and breadsticks in front of us, Mountain Dew for me and Sierra Mist for her. We watched and laughed and compared it to the Molly books she’d just finished reading. We cheered when Molly’s mom read the letter saying her father was alive and safe and on his way home.

And then my daughter whispered, “I wish we could get a letter like that about Daddy.”

She crawled in my lap. I cuddled her and whispered back, “Me, too, little girl.”

We’re trying, we really are. We laugh and watch movies and keep up our family traditions because it’s how we keep him with us. It’s not easy because we miss him so much…his silliness and his sweet gestures and everything he did that told us we were his world. But we do it – through the sadness and the tears – because these traditions are our connection to him, it’s how we keep our little family together.

I’m pretty sure he’s giving us two thumbs up.