Elisheva and I have a running joke that every single children’s book ends with the kid (or kids) falling asleep… at least, the good ones all do.
So why is that?
Kids certainly don’t fantasize about falling asleep, so whose fantasy is it? Well, the parents’, obviously.
So there is a moment, and if you haven’t seen the movie Where the Wild Things Are, you might not want to read on because it might spoil it for you, but maybe not, because we all know he comes back in the end. But anyway, read on at your own risk.
There is a moment at the end of the movie where Max comes home and his supper is, of course, still hot… just like in the book. But in the movie, his mother waited up for him, she meets him at the door and doesn’t say much, which is just right. And they sit at the kitchen table and she is watching her son eat and she falls asleep.
That’s the ending of the movie. Sorry if I blew it for you – it’s been out for two months or whatever already, so if you haven’t seen it, you probably didn’t want to anyway.
And it is the PERFECT ending because it is that Everyparent fantasy that so little kids’ lit acknowledges: your child is safe, your child is home… now you can go to sleep.
I thought about my mother-in-law in Calgary at that moment. I don’t know how she sleeps. She told me once she feared nothing because the very worst thing has already happened.
I knew, KNEW almost five years ago when he died, that this moment would come. The movie I wish Jeremy could have seen.
This is that movie.
Of course, there may have been dozens more in the interim: I haven’t seen many movies in that time, and our interests didn’t often overlap. No doubt, he would have loved every single computer-generated, animated, action-adventure end-of-the-world zombie-thriller special-effects bonanza to have hit the silver screen in the last half-decade (are screens still silver?).
But this is the movie he would have called me after, maybe crying, maybe gentle, maybe sad, maybe demanding I take the kids. (Elisheva came with me, and I was happy that she did, because she is part of him – so he is still here, seeing it, in some way)
Assuming, assuming, assuming… he hadn’t fallen in love… married… had kids of his own. Five years changes a lot, or at least, it has in my life. I know it’s dangerous to make assumptions like that, to assume our relationship, such as it was, would never have grown or changed.
But for what it’s worth, this is that movie.
And it is a movie I hope my mother-in-law never sees, because it is about a little boy who runs away to a scary world, and then comes home… and her little boy will never walk through the door again.
She may sleep well enough each night, but she will never shut her eyes and be filled with peace ever again.