The Living and the Dead, Heaven and the Moon

Recently, on Friday nights, we go out and get mexican or pizza with the kids and then come home and have movie night. This is kind of Todd’s thing, and he and the kids pick out the movie and he cuddles up with them. Meanwhile, I pour myself a drink, and I sit and write or read or fuck around on Facebook. This also means that when the pick isn’t that great, i can blame Todd for its failure. Like, oh, say, tonight.

We had a discussion at the dinner table the other night about what movie we would watch on Friday. Tiller voted Bolt. Rollie voted Wall-E.

“Hmmm,” I said. “I think i would like to watch Wall-E too. Todd, what would you like to watch?”

Todd knew by the tone of my voice that he wanted to watch Bolt, so as to create a tie, and a teaching experience. We would teach them how to share through the joys of a family movie night tie-breaker.

“I would like to watch Bolt,” Todd said. Cause he knows what’s good for him.

Rollie and Tiller both sputtered. It is inconceivable to a 3 or 5 year old that things might not swing their way.

“Seems we have a problem,” I said. “We do not have a majority here. What are we going to do?”

We all looked at each other around the table. Rollie was obviously mulling something over.

“I know,” he said.

“What?” said Tiller.

“Well, Daddy and Tiller can watch Bolt, and me and Mama can watch Wall-E. We get the upstairs tv!”

Todd and I looked at each other, knowing we had been outsmarted by a five-year-old. Not exactly what we had in mind.

“I’ve got an idea,” said Todd. “I’ll go by the library tomorrow and get us a new movie.”

He did.

So, tonight, he got ready to go out for his Friday night outing, I poured a Bloody Mary, and the kids and i piled up on the couch, lights turned off, movie cued up, the setting sun illuminating our west-facing room. The dog and the cat were our bookends on the couch.

We had been talking all day about Daddy’s pick: The Corpse Bride.

It is PG. We debated if we thought it was okay for them to watch. They saw The Nightmare Before Christmas and loved it. Rollie saw Coraline in the theater, in 3D no less, and loved it. We figured this would be a piece of cake. Tiller fell asleep about halfway through and Todd took her up to bed. Then he left and Rollie and I finished the movie, his head nestled on my chest to my left, Quint curled up in a donut to my right, and Scully sitting in a curl next to Rollie. One big happy family.

For those of you who haven’t seen The Corpse Bride, it is great. A brief synopsis: Gawky, geeky Johnny Depp-looking guy of modest means, Victor, is set up to marry the well-to-do in name, not so well-off monetarily bride, Victoria. They fall in love. The wedding turns into a disaster and ends up not happening. Victor accidentally marries a corpse instead. Corpse loves Victor. He grows to care for her, but still loves Victoria. Stuff happens. Skeletons do a catchy musical number. To make marriage the real deal, Victor must die. Meanwhile, Victoria must wed bad guy who actually made the corpse bride a corpse in the first place. In the end, Victor and his true love Victoria end up together and the corpse bride is set free and the bad guy gets his comeuppance. So, suffice to say that there are three weddings, and a whole lotta dead folks.

During the third wedding, Rollie says to me: “I don’t like weddings.”
Me: “Why not?”
Rollie: “They’re boring.”
I laugh.
Me: “Yeah, actually, sometimes they are boring. You know what, though? If your daddy and I never got married, you wouldn’t even be here now, right? So, that’s a good thing.”
Rollie thinks this over, then says, “I went to a wedding. It was boring.”
I think to myself, no way you remember the last wedding you went to, which was Aunt Lisa’s. You were three.
I say, “When did you go to a wedding?”
Somehow, I knew what he was going to say before he said it.
“Grandma and Papaw Johnson had a wedding.”
“What?” I say.
“They had that girl that used to sleep in the chair all the time.”
My mind was racing to figure this out, hoping he wasn’t talking about what I thought he was talking about.
He was looking at me, waiting to see if I knew what he was talking about.

When Todd’s grandmother was alive, and living with my in-laws, she spent a lot of time sleeping in a chair in her room.

“Honey, do you mean Meemaw?”
Rollie said, “Yes, we went to the wedding and she was dead.”


I took a deep breath.
“Sweetie, that wasn’t a wedding. That was Meemaw’s funeral. A wedding is when two people who love each other promise to be together forever. Like Mama and Daddy. A funeral is when people get together to celebrate the life of a person who has gone to heaven. Like Meemaw.”

Rollie: “Oh.” He seemed to accept this all and go back to watching the movie. I, on the other hand, will need therapy after showing my son a movie that totally blurred the lines between the living and the dead in such a believable way.

We sat on the couch quietly watching the movie, him getting the dazed look kids get when they are tired, me thinking quietly to myself that the movie seems so benign and sweet, but I can see where all the living and the dead people hanging out together could be confusing to someone so little. At the end, Victor and Victoria stand together on the church steps, watching as the Corpse Bride disintegrates into a beautiful cloud of. . . well, I won’t give the full imagery, in case you haven’t seen the movie. (See the movie!) But the particles of her being float apart and up into the moon.

“Where is she going?” Rollie says to me.

“She’s going to heaven, Honey. She found love and acceptance, and that freed her soul to go to heaven.”

Rollie mulls over this and then says, “Is Meemaw in the moon?”

“Yes, honey, i think that if the moon is heaven, then she might be in the moon.”

“I like the moon.”

“Me, too, sweetie.”


  3 comments for “The Living and the Dead, Heaven and the Moon

  1. weremonkey
    March 26, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    Well, I can see where funerals aren’t nearly as much fun as weddings. The guest of honor is hardly up to entertaining anyone.

    Weddings involve great clothes on everyone, quite often a beautiful dress on the bride, and CAKE! These days, it’s usually TWO cakes! That might make weddings seem much more fun.

    However, I don’t recall any cake in The Corpse Bride. *sigh* Very sweet story, still.

  2. weremonkey
    March 26, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    The moon as heaven? Beautiful.

  3. March 27, 2009 at 5:04 pm

    There is a cake in The Corpse Bride, I believe. And thanks.

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